We’ve taken a few weeks off from the blog – summer vacations, year end and just being busy. But we’re back again and today, we’re going to talk about something more close to home – personal habits to keep your information safe. In today’s online world with ransomware, security breaches and identity theft, it can be a difficult task to keep your information private. By practicing some basic safety checks, you can make it more difficult for your information to be accessed.
We all know that there is no Ethiopian prince who is seeking to invest in the US. Along those same lines, the IRS is not going to contact you via email regarding pending litigation. Email phishing is a common practice. There are some ways to identify if an email is valid or if it’s phishing.
When submitting information online, make sure the site you are using is secure. Look at the URL and make sure it shows “https” and not just “http”.
Before posting pictures and videos online, remember they may contain GPS data showing where the picture was taken. Along those lines, avoid posting on social media when you are on vacation – it’s a great way for thieves to know when you aren’t home.
Avoid giving out personal information unless it’s an absolute requirement. Many sites ask you for a birthdate when it’s not really needed. Personally, I have chosen a fake birthdate that I use when these sites ask for it. Many sites will also ask for an email address in order to access their site. I typically use a fake email address as well. Unless the site states they are going to email access, they are just looking for your personal information.
Not all threats to your personal information are going to come via email. Has anyone gotten a phone call from “Microsoft” stating there is an issue with your computer? There is no way Microsoft is monitoring your computer at that very moment and detecting any sort of issue. If you don’t recognize the phone number where they are calling from, ask them for it and call it back to verify.
Credit cards are another easy target, especially by skimmers. Skimmers are small devices that take your credit card information off from the magnetic stripe. Many stores are converting to chip readers which provide added security. If your credit card company has not sent you a chip card, call and ask for one.
Keep in mind it’s not just you that needs to keep information safe. Children are becoming easy targets. Monitor the sites they visit and make sure they aren’t downloading any viruses. If they have a smartphone, take a look at their apps. There are some apps that have been linked to illicit sites.
Lastly, make sure to keep your devices updated. Many apps have regular updates to fix security holes. The longer your device isn’t updated, the more susceptible it may become.
Remember, it’s your information and you should try to keep it that way.
~Donna Regan, Marketing