As millions of retirees around the globe begin to order on-line and Zoom with their grandchildren, it is important to remain vigilant when it comes to staying safe online. Here are six cyber-security tips that you can start utilizing today.
Tip #1: Use Public WiFi With Caution
While most of us have been keeping our distance, churches and coffee shops are beginning to reopen. If you decide to get on-line in a public space, it’s crucial that you still utilize a secure internet connection. Public WiFi, especially that which is not password protected, is not secure and can easily be infiltrated. Some options when using WiFi outside of your home include:
- Activating a personal hotspot from your phone or personal computer.
- Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which provides a secure connection to different services (web pages, email, a SQL server, etc.).
- Establish encrypted remote connections to a remote desktop or other individual servers.
Tip #2: Avoid Email Scams and Phishing
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, remain vigilant of potential scam emails, either by unknown addresses or by scammers posing as people/businesses you know. Once a scammer gains your trust or injects an undetected virus, they may try to steal important information such as passwords, account numbers or your Social Security number. Be sure you know who are really communicating. Slow down and ask yourself, or trusted family member or friend if it makes sense to trust the person you are communicating with.
Tip #3: Don’t Leave Your Laptop Unattended
It may be tempting to do so, but never leave your laptop out in the open when working somewhere other than home. This could include keeping it in the car, on a table or anywhere unattended. You never know who may be watching and waiting to take your belongings when you walk away.
Tip #4: Be Selective When Using USB Flash Drives
You may have various thumb drives sitting around the house that you’ve acquired over the years. If you can’t remember where it came from, think twice before using it. Do not continue to use one if you have plugged it into a system for whose safety you can’t vouch for.
Tip #5: Use a USB Data Blocker When Charging at a Public Station
If you find yourself somewhere running low on battery and in need of a charge where you have access to a public charger, consider using a USB Data Blocker to prevent data exchange and guard against malware. It is possible that as electricity is flowing into your device your data is flowing out.
Tip #6: Keep your Passwords Safe
Make sure that you keep your computer, email and important documents safe and secure. In order to do so, you may want to consider using a password-saving tool, such as LastPass or Dashlane. These third-party tools allow you to safely store passwords you typically use online, saving you the headache of having to remember multiple passwords across various sites. In regards to password creation and maintenance, there are few tips you can follow to help keep your accounts secure. These include:
- Don’t use real words
- Don’t use personal information
- Create long passwords
- Change passwords regularly
- Don’t type them on public devices
As we begin to reopen in phases, many people will be heading back to their favorite virtual spot. Whether you’re at-home, in a coffee shop or the church lobby, continue to utilize these cyber-security tips to keep your information safe. I’ve included a few links below if you’re interested in learning more about being a responsible Cyber Citizen.
Be safe out there!