Staying Safe in the Digital Landscape and You: How They Connect
The world is ever increasingly becoming connected via the Internet, and individuals use the Internet for a multitude of everyday tasks: paying bills, socializing, working, and for leisure. Knowing how to stay safe online is one way to protect your personal identifiable information. Here are some ways to keep you and your data safe while using the Internet.
Logging In: Securing Your Passwords and How to Manage Them
Passwords are one of your first line defenses in your toolbox of Internet safety. Think of your password as a key: you wouldn’t reuse the same key for all your locks, would you? Keep your data and accounts safe by choosing a password that follows three main guidelines: long, unique, and complex. Secure passwords are at least 12 characters long and are made complex by using a combination of numbers, special characters, lower-case letters, and upper-case letters. Keep them unique by never reusing a password. Now that you have unique passwords for each service you use, you might be asking yourself, ‘how do I keep track and remember all my strong passwords?’ That brings us to the password manager.
With the ever-increasing amounts of online profiles we create and log in to, it’s easier than ever before to manage and store all your secure passwords. A password manager is a type of software that can generate, store, and autofill passwords. The days of writing down and remembering all your passwords are long behind us. Password managers save you time and makes securing your accounts easy. Password managers are useful for the generation and storage of secure passwords and can alert you when a password has been potentially compromised. Common password managers include Bitwarden, LastPass, NordPass, and Apple iCloud Keychain.
Enabling multi-factor authorization (MFA) is a great way to add an extra level of account security. MFA works by adding a second step in your login process to verify your identity. MFA works like this: when you login to a service and provide your password, the service will send you a notification to a previously provided email address or phone number to verify your identity by clicking a link, typing in a number, or confirming that the activity does belong to you. Many web services have intrinsic MFA, or you can enable it with a third-party application, such as Microsoft Authenticator, Google Authenticator, or Duo.
Antivirus Software and Software Updates
One of the easiest things you can do to ensure your data is safe is to regularly update your software. This takes minimal action, as you often can set up automatic updates on your device. This includes operating system software and applications. Always download from the source (the company that created it) and do not click Internet links from pop-windows urging you to ‘update immediately.’
Antivirus software is another easy tool to use to protect your device and your data. Antivirus programs work by spotting, segregating, and/or deleting malware or other viruses on your device via a scanning procedure. Update it regularly and set up automatic scans to ensure the best protection.
Phishing: Don’t Take the Bait
Spotting a phishing email is often the hardest part of dealing with phishing. But what exactly is phishing? Phishing is a scam when criminals use fake emails, social media posts or direct messages with the goal of getting people to click on a bad link or download a malicious attachment. Fortunately, it is easy to spot a scam email once you know what to look for. With some knowledge, you can routinely detect a phishing fraud. Be on the lookout for emails with a too good to be true offer, urgent or alarming language, generic syntax, poor spelling, and requests for personal information. Never click on any links! The best way to combat a phishing attempt is to simply delete the email, block the sender’s address, and report it to your technology/security department (if applicable).