Protect Your Personal Data with These IT Security Tips from the Experts
As we spend an increasing number of hours connected online, the importance of information security and protection also increases. For businesses and individuals alike, security measures and knowledge of threats, hacking trends, and phishing vulnerabilities can protect you and your information. Information is empowering and can help you differentiate between valid communications, error alerts, and scams that are designed to compromise your hardware and exploit your personal data.
Is your family vulnerable to hackers? Speak with your children about digital literacy and safety online, and review our top tips for protecting your family’s information.
Useful Tips to Limit the Risk of Hacking and Other Online Threats
It is strange but not surprising that while most of us are alert, vigilant and focused on detail at work, we tend to let our guard down when it comes to personal time. Online hackers are looking for those split-second opportunities when you or a family member is inattentive or negligent.
Use these strategies to stay alert and keep your personal information safe:
- File Types – Certain file formats are designed to wreak havoc on your data. Only open an attachment if you are confident about the sender. Ensure your settings are displaying the entire file name and always check before downloading. Word, PDF, and .EXE are most commonly used for hacks and can create a security breach.
- Phishing Email Red Flags– Your inbox is a familiar corner of the worldwide web, but it also creates a portal for hackers and other scams to reach you. Don’t let your guard down and use these simple guidelines to determine the legitimacy of an email:
- Sender Address – The sender name will often look legitimate, but always take the time to look at the address. If you see jumbled numbers or a free account provider is being used, report it or hit delete.
- Urgency – Your bank and other service providers will not use email to make you perform account updates or other urgent, important, or sensitive actions. Often, dramatic calls to action will be used to make you act quickly without reflecting, so be wary of anything that uses this approach.
- Content – If the email is asking for personal data, money transfers, or alerting you about suspicious account activity, take pause. Call an authentic source for more information before you act online or provide additional details.
- Personal Information – Sensitive personal information should be entered sparingly. With the rising popularity and convenience of online shopping, it is not surprising that many people are more lax about how and where they record their credit card details. This information should be kept secure and never shared over email. Check the URL before making an online transaction. Ensure the web address begins with “https://” to confirm security, and always check the URL if you get redirected. Many phishing scams access details through unsecure email communications, so keeping these details limited to secure, verified forms is crucial. Use the same rules for usernames, passwords, social security numbers, and other sensitive information.
- Preventative Measures – If you are dealing with a reputable brand or local company, don’t hesitate to call in case you feel uncertain about the validity of an email or website. Another simple test is to enter a fake password. If your social media or email accounts request optional two-step identification, take the extra step. It is usually as easy as entering a code sent via text. Also ensure your passwords are difficult, and do not draw on personal information. Change them often to maximize your security.
Personal data does not have the same compliance requirements as corporate data collection, but security threats are still plentiful through phishing scams and hacking attempts. Take matters into your own hands with the right protection.
Learn more from our IT security experts about protecting your personal information or leave a comment below with your questions.