How can you protect yourself?
Secure your computer
Your home computer most likely contains a lot of your personal information. Take the proper steps to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
Regularly update your operating system.
Most major software companies regularly release updates or patches to their operating systems to repair security problems. You can minimize your exposure to attacks by keeping your computer updated. A best practice is to set your computer to receive automatic updates whenever possible.
Get up-to-date antispyware and antivirus software.
Make sure you are running current software to catch any potential malicious codes, such as viruses, worms, Trojans, etc., that can infiltrate your computer and allow attackers to access your information or take it over. Remember to also scan any drives that may be connected to your computer via USB.
Always log out of your session.
Online fraud can happen by moving from one website to another without logging out of a previous one. Always open a new browser instead of a window if you want to stay logged in where you are. Log out before closing your browser when you are finished.
Mind your portable devices
Although convenient, laptops, tablets, and smartphones are easily lost or stolen. Remember that these increasingly sophisticated devices carry sensitive information about you.
Lock your device.
Most portable devices can be configured to autolock and require a passcode. Use this feature whenever possible as a first line of defense.
Encrypt your data.
Encryption can make the data almost useless to the person finding your laptop. It’s a best practice to encrypt files and folders.
Use a screen guard.
These can help prevent someone from seeing your screen and enable you to work with sensitive information in a crowded area.
Enable additional security on your smartphone and other mobile devices.
Invest in software that will allow you to remotely erase sensitive information from a device that is lost or stolen. Locate and lock your phone or tablet using its GPS.
Be smart when using wireless networks
Working wirelessly offers many benefits, but there are things to be careful of when using wireless networks.
Protect your home wireless network.
The default configuration on a home wireless network is typically not secure and many applications can easily break this low level of encryption. Contact your wireless software vendor for specific information about enabling stronger encryption, and change your router’s default password.
Use a personal firewall.
Firewalls are protective barriers between your computer and the Internet and can prevent unauthorized access to your computer while you are online. They can be software programs or physical devices, often combined with your router. Make sure yours is activated.
Use caution when accessing public “hot spots.”
To make network access easier for their users, public hot spots typically turn their security off. This means that most likely any information you send from this hot spot is not encrypted. To avoid automatically joining these networks, be sure to disable your Wi-Fi adapter when you do not need it.
Disable file and printer sharing.
These features enable other computers on a network to access resources on your computer. While enabled, your computer is vulnerable to hackers. Unless necessary, turn this feature off.