Keep your computer software up to date. The patches and updates should be installed as soon as possible. They fix known problems. Criminals are more than happy to use old exploits to access your computer. This includes the operating system (Windows XP is no longer getting patches).
Run anti-virus software and keep it up to date. It won’t stop everything but it makes it harder for the bad guys. Tens of thousands of new viruses are written each day so keeping up to date is critical.
Use encryption on your hard drive. It makes it harder to exploit any data that is stolen.
Strong passwords. Upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols and 8 or more characters. Consider using a password storage program like Key Pass to generate and store passwords.
Remember your smartphone is a computer. It is susceptible to viruses and cybercrime like any other computer.
Be mindful of social engineering. This is how the cybercriminals get inside your computer. Criminals use familiar sounding names and leverage human nature to install malware. Phishing emails look real and get better each day. Clicking on attachments or links is where problems happen. Banks, credit card companies, or government agencies will not ask you to go to a website to update data on you accounts via email. If something looks a bit funny, don’t click the link but call first.
Be very skeptical of clicking on a link in an email from an unknown source. It is may say yourbank.com in the blue hyperlink but take you to robmeblind.ru in reality. If you are in doubt always type the link address into the browser yourself. This guarantees you won’t be misdirected to a different site.
Be wary of wi-fi. At home if you network is not encrypted, anyone can access the internet and most likely any computer in your house, and they can probably do it from the driveway. Similarly if you are on a public wi-fi at the coffee shop, someone else can monitor your traffic. Using the phone’s cellular network is safer.
Closely monitor you credit card and bank accounts, if something suspicious happens timely reporting is essential. There are legal protections if you become the victim of cybercrime. Monitor your credit report. You are entitled to a free report each year. You can lock your credit if you chose.
Money is now electronic. Protect it with same care that you would use for your wallet or other valuables.
The Stop Think Connect program sponsored by DHS, the Anti-Phishing Working Group and the National Cybersecurity Alliance is a great resource to get more information on keeping yourself safe on line.
To see more blogs about cybersecurity visit us at http://www.nationalcybersecurityinstitute.org/nci-blog/