10 Steps to Become Cyber-Secure in 2022
As we enter 2022, cybersecurity remains an increasing issue in our virtual/digital world. However, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself from cyber-attacks.
Perhaps one of the first things that should be reviewed is to understand what cybersecurity is. It is the state of being secure against the illegal or unapproved use of electronic data, or the actions taken to accomplish this. As hackers and cyberterrorists increase their tactics to threaten our systems and information, it is more important than ever to remain diligent in the following areas.
- Review your accesses
Complete a review of all the various sites, software, and devices you use to access confidential information. Make sure you have the correct passwords and still can gain access. If there are important programs you aren’t able to access anymore, identify whether your passwords expired, were forgotten, or perhaps an outside source accessed and changed your password without your knowledge. This is why frequent checks are important.
2. Check/change passwords
While completing a review of your accesses, it would also be a good time to update your passwords. It can be difficult to keep track of your various passwords, particularly as we should not be using the same password for multiple sites, so a password management tool could be beneficial to keep organized and protected. A password management tool, like LastPass, is free and can be used on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices. It can create unique passwords and store them for you, so you don’t have to remember each password.
3.Check your credit report
Credit bureaus provide consumers access to free credit reports for a year through AnnualCreditReport.com. Many credit card companies will also give a snapshot of your current credit score and even alert you if there has been a recent change in your credit score. Keeping an eye on your credit scores and any recent changes could identify potential actions caused by an intruding party.
4. Avoid using public computers
Public computers can put you at risk for a cyber-attack, as you don’t know if the computer has security features installed or if a prior user compromised the security on the computer. The network the computer is connected to is also vulnerable to an attack or could possibly already be compromised. If you must use a public computer, avoid logging into any sites with your login credentials and do not enter any credit card information or highly sensitive information.
5. Don’t share your passwords with anyone (including family)
When creating a password, keep it private and save it in a location where only you have access. This includes sharing it with family members. The more a password is shared, the higher the risk a hacker could gain access. Someone you shared a password with might fall victim to a phishing attempt and the hacker now has access to your account and could steal your information. Another possibility is the person you share your password with might have malware on their device which steals the password and grants access to your account and information. Since many people reuse the same passwords for multiple sites and software, you could jeopardize all of them if a hacker gets ahold of just one shared password.
6. Review emails before opening any attachments or links
When receiving emails with attachments or links, review the email sender address for anything that may look suspicious. Look for spelling or grammatical errors in the body of the text. Ask yourself if you were expecting this email from the sender. If an email does look suspicious, it could be wise to reach out to the sender through a different outlet to see if they sent over the email. Instead of clicking the link directly from the email, you could also open a web browser and search for the site or associated link.
7. Secure your devices
Make sure to install and keep anti-virus software up to date on all your devices. Turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth only when you need them. Hackers can easily see what networks you have connected to in the past and can trick your device into connecting to other Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices that hackers have access to. If supported, enable remote locking and wiping capabilities on your devices in the event your device is stolen or lost. This will allow you to lock the device or wipe the information remotely to prevent someone from accessing your sensitive information if they steal your device.
8. Manage your social media settings
Social media can offer a wealth of personal information to hackers without you even knowing it. An example would be posting a wedding picture of your parents with a caption including your mother’s maiden name or posting an update about your pet revealing their name. These tend to be answers people use in security questions. It is recommended that the less you share publicly, the better. Some easy ways to secure your social media sites are to change them from public to private or update the sharing settings to specify who should have access to what. Update your passwords frequently and save them in a place only you have access to.
9. Back up your devices
By backing up your devices frequently, it can protect against ransomware. Cybercriminals use malicious software they install on your computer to lock you out of your files. Having backups of your data allows you to restore your computer to a recent point in time before the ransomware was installed, thereby essentially locking the hacker out. There are many options for backing up your computer. You can backup to an external hard drive, a cloud-based service, or both. An example could be DropBox, iDrive, Backblaze, or Microsoft OneDrive.
10. Know what to do if you become a victim
If you believe that you’ve become a victim of a cybercrime, you need to alert the authorities even if the crime seems minor. Your report may aid authorities in their open investigations or may help to prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage of other people in the future. If you think cybercriminals have stolen your identity, these are among the steps you should consider:
- Contact the companies and banks where you know fraud occurred.
- Place fraud alerts and get your credit reports.
- Report identity theft to the FTC1
If you follow the above steps, this should provide you with the tools necessary to maximize your protection against cybercrime. The most important habits you can form are to stay alert, pay attention, and always err on the side of caution with any unexpected communications.
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Insight Wealth Strategies, LLC (IWS) and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.
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