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October was National Cybersecurity Month and while the days of Fall may feel far behind us, the importance of cybersecurity hasn’t changed. This year more and more families will be ordering their Christmas gifts online to skip long lines and avoid crowded spaces. This is an excellent way to steer clear of the continuing danger of Covid-19 but it exposes you to an equally pervasive risk: cyber theft. The best way to keep your family’s personal information safe as you shop online and engage in other digital activities is to understand where and how theft most often occurs. The following guide provides an overview.
Four Steps to Staying Safe Online
Common sense is the greatest way to avoid leaving fraudsters a tempting trail of personal information but this only works if you and your loved ones are sufficiently internet-savvy. While most Millennials are, both older and younger generations may lack the digital fluency needed to stay safe. These four basic steps help change that.
1. Learn to Recognize Scams
Thieves often employ phishing emails, threatening phone calls, or text messages posing as legitimate organizations as a means of convincing victims to surrender their personal details. The best way to avoid these scams is to never click on links in emails or messages from unknown or suspicious senders. Threatening phone calls should likewise be ignored. No legitimate organization will leverage threats if you do not supply them with requested information.
2. Don’t Overshare
Online vendors will often require your name and email address but none need your Social Security Number or birthday to do business. Likewise, unless you are requesting shipping, you should be wary of providing your address and you should never provide your bank account number. The more information cybercriminals can collect, the more damage they can do, and thus you should default to giving as little personal data as possible.
3. Understand the Danger of Public Wi-Fi
Nefarious actors can easily intercept personal information through public wireless networks. When using the Wi-Fi at your local cafe or shopping mall avoid making online purchases or logging in to financial accounts and always connect using a virtual private network (VPN).
4. Create Strong Passwords and Use Anti-Virus Protections
These days, much of the difficulty of digital security can be automated but only if you take the steps to use available systems. Make sure security software is installed on your devices and allow permission to automatically update. Remember to encrypt sensitive files and use a password manager to create and keep track of strong passwords.
Following these four simple steps will go far in ensuring you and your family’s data remains secure as you take advantage of the extreme ease brought on by the digital era.
To learn more about protecting both digital and physical assets and information, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm either by calling 417-623-2062 or using the contact form on our website.
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