Using your smartphone and computer to shop, pay bills, manage your bank accounts and other tasks is definitely easy and convenient. At the same time, we must be smart about the way we use our technology to be sure we don’t fall prey to identity theft, phishing scams and other online crimes.
In order to be sure that your online experiences are as safe and secure as possible in 2020 and beyond, consider the following cybersecurity tips:
1. Embrace Two-Factor Authentication
To make your mobile device as secure as you can, start by using two-factor authentication. You can typically add in this feature directly through your phone, laptop or tablet. For example, when using Apple’s two-factor authentication program, your account can only be accessed on your own trusted devices. If you want to sign in on a new-to-you device, you will have to provide two pieces of ID—usually a password an a six-digit code that will be sent to a trusted device. In other words, your password alone will not be enough to access your account, which will prevent thieves who somehow figure out your password from being able to access your personal info on another device.
2. Use a Password Manager
Let’s be honest here: chances are good that at least one of your passwords is your dog’s name, a string of obvious numbers like “1234” or another easy-to-remember option. Unfortunately, these simple passwords are also easy for cybercriminals to guess. Instead, use a password manager and create strong passwords made up of random letters and numbers. Dashlane and RoboForm are examples of these types of password protector apps that can secure and generate hard-to-guess passwords that will still allow you to easily log in to websites. In the case of RoboForm, it will store your passwords, log you in with a single click or tap and offers an AutoFill option for shipping and billing information on websites.
3. Invest in an Identity Theft Program
Despite your best intentions and practices, you may still fall victim to identity theft. Rather than find out once a great deal of damage has been done—for instance, you open your credit card bill to find a number of unauthorized charges—it is wise to invest in an identity theft program that will keep tabs on your personal information and accounts, 24/7/365. For instance, LifeLock is a company that will not only alert you if someone is trying to steal your identity, it will also let you know if there is a credit check being done in your name, if a new bank or credit card account has been opened and more. You will have the option each time to say “yes, this is me” or “no, this is not me.” If it’s the latter, they will take steps to stop the account and then fix any issues. You can contact LifeLock either by phone or their website; as a bonus, they are offering a 10 percent off discount right now on the first year of service.
4. Scan Everything that You Download
If you need to download a file from the web, either for work or personal use, it is prudent to run a security scan on every single file that you add to your computer system. Chances are good that you have an antivirus program already; make sure it is updated and use it to scan not only programs that you want to download, but also any email attachments that you receive. Even if you trust the person who sent you the attachment, it could have been infected with malware along the way, so save yourself cybersecurity headaches and scan every file and attachment, every time.
Proactive Behaviors Equal Cybersafety
Fortunately, you do not have to take identity theft, hacking and other online issues lying down. By being proactive and taking tangible steps to protect your personal information and investing in a program that will monitor your identity, you can rest assured that you will be as safe and secure as possible.