By Gianna Petronio
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. With a whole month dedicated to keeping your online life as safe as possible, why not talk about a few important tips to safeguard your personal information online and keep it out of the hands of cyber criminals?
It is impossible to keep your personal information 100% safe from online hackers but taking the steps to avoid a potential breach is better than doing nothing at all. Apparently, there are devices now that hackers carry that allow them to literally walk right past you, scan your information from your wallet or cellphone, and have all your information in an instant. The only tip I can give you there is not to trust anyone. However, to keep those greedy cyber hackers away from your personal and business information, here are a few tips to safeguard your personal information online.
1. Know what to do with your passwords.
You hear it all the time: “Strengthen your passwords!” The basic tip to safeguard your personal information here is to increase your character length. Maybe use a full phrase instead of a single word as multiple words are much more difficult to guess. If you don’t want to make it a long phrase, include capital letters and symbols. The more unique the password, the harder it is to break in.
Who really has time to memorize all their passwords? Utilize a secure service password manager application to store all your passwords in a centralized location. This ensures a much more secure setting than having your passwords written on a sticky next to your computer. If you’re still a little unsettled, there are options for multi-factor authentication you can take advantage of. Use a second application to grant you access to the site and then type your password in from there.
2. Avoid public Wi-Fi.
The worst thing in the world is going over your data plan for the month – trust me, I know. But it really isn’t safe to use public Wi-Fi so it’s better to incur the extra data charges to keep your personal information safe. Anything unprotected is open to anyone out there. If you can get on, so can the hacker sitting in the back of Starbucks waiting for their next victim to type in their bank information on the unsecured network. Shut your Wi-Fi off when you know you’re going to be in an unsecured location. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
3. Watch where you online shop.
I personally know a few people who have been victimized by this exact scam. They order something off what they think is a secure website, when in fact it’s just a scam to get your personal information. Think about it. You are typing in your name, address, and credit card information into these websites. You should really do a little research to see if the site is credible. Reading reviews is a quick way to do a little research that will help you figure out if the site you’re about to enter your data into is legit. If the reviews are bad, take the advice of the poor people who have come before you. When on a website, look for the padlock at the top of the address bar. That means it’s most likely a secure website. Also, look for the “S” in the HTTPS. Shopping is always fun, but not at the expense of your personal information.
Hopefully these tips to safeguard personal information can help you avoid the pain of online hackers. Cybersecurity is a growing concern now that internet and web-based applications are the norm. More and more, companies are improving their systems and tightening up their security. It’s a demand that customers want to see happen. No one is going to have an impenetrable system, but remembering these tips to safeguard your personal information online is better than nothing.