Cybersecurity – Protecting Yourself When Online

As we become more and more connected through the regular use of the internet and email, it is easy to become complacent on the risk associated with online activities. There are a few reasonble steps to reduce (not eliminate) your risk.
Passwords: Passwords should not be simple and used for multiple accounts. Make them more complex with a use of numbers and letters with a mix of small and large caps and symbols is useful. Maintain a list of logins and passwords using a password management program (Keeper, LastPass, etc.) or an encrypted spreadsheet.
Two-Step Authentication: Most email, banking, credit card, and social media accounts allow you to ‘opt in’ to two factor authentication (2FA). This is an extra step to log in for the first time on a new device (computer, phone, etc.) that requires a code to be texted to your phone, or emailed to a separate email account before you can access the information. While it can be a bit frustrating, it is much better than finding out that someone obtained access to your bank or credit card account and made a series of purchases.
Lock Your Phone/Computer: All phones and computers allow you to require a password, finger print, etc. to access the device. Without setting up this rather simple level of protection, anyone who, even momentarily, has possession of the device also has access to all of the information on it.
Install antivirus and anti-malware: Antivirus or anti-malware software will help you avoid inadvertently downloading programs that install programs that destroy or access all of your private data. Many good options are available like Norton 360, McAfee, AVG, Malwarebytes, ESET.
Don’t just click that link: Hackers are notorious for sending emails that are disguised as being sent from a legitimate source. Be suspicisous about any email that asks you to click a link or provide login information for an account. Check the UNDERLYING EMAIL ADDRESS to see if it makes sense. (i.e. You won’t receive an invoice for AT&T from an email address like ‘’.) The same goes for links in mysterious text messages – don’t click the link.
Avoid use of public WiFi: Publicly available WiFi is notorious for hackers capturing online activity, passwords, etc. If you must, however, use a virtual private network (VPN) service that encrypts your activity while connected to public or hotel internet service. VPN services are fee based, but not necessarily expensive. Options to consider: ExpressVPN; NordVPN; Surfshark; etc.