The threat of cyber attacks is rapidly expanding and transforming.
As people become more and more connected to technology, the opportunity for exposure grows. But just because these incidents are happening more frequently, it doesn’t mean we should just get used to them.
In fact, it is more pertinent than ever that we continue to learn about the latest scams and hacking trends and how to protect against them. While an “easy button” doesn’t exist for protecting yourself, there are a handful of things you can do right now to up your personal protection against cyber attacks.
More devices than you realize have an internet connection. Your phone, computer systems, wi-fi router, printer, and even some refrigerators could potentially pose a threat. One of the simplest ways to avoid having sensitive data stolen is to consistently update these devices.
By staying up-to-date on the latest software and news surrounding your devices, you’ll not only avoid unwanted bugs and glitches, but you’ll also increase their information security. Software and device developers often build additional security stop-gaps into new updates minimizing an attacker’s ability to exploit a vulnerability. If you’re always running the latest versions of software, the likelihood that one of these devices is compromised decreases.
Freeze Your Credit
It shouldn’t be a surprise that your credit is vulnerable, especially given recent breaches like the Equifax one that compromised 145.5 million records of sensitive customer data. If this data breach (or other cyber attacks) is something that you’re worried about, you should have already frozen your credit. If not, it’s certainly something to consider moving forward that can prevent your credit from being stolen or affected in the future.
A credit freeze blocks access to your credit file. To do this, you’ll need to contact all three credit bureaus.
Once frozen, no one can open anything under your credit. This way, if anyone tried to open an account, take out a loan, etc. using your credit, it would be denied. Since only you will be able to lift the freeze, it is much easier to ensure that the only one using your credit is you.
Learn Common Scams
Laughter may be the best medicine, but education is the best vaccine. The best way to protect yourself from compromise is to learn what kinds of tricks and techniques to retrieve data are out there, and what you can do to avoid and prevent them. Reading the news to stay current will keep you in the loop about what attackers and social engineers are doing.
Phone and email scams continue to be the most common and effective methods social engineers use to get at your data. Be conscientious of the types of phone messages that are typical social engineering schemes. Understand how to make sure links and attachments in emails are safe before you open them. Developing a strong knowledge base around hacking trends is a crucial way for you to not fall victim to attacks.
The Federal Trade Commission keeps a running tab of reported scams. If you’re unsure whether or not a communication you’ve received is legitimate or not, this can be an easy place to spot a social engineering attempt.
Once you’ve learned how to catch on to scams, phishing attempts, social engineering trends, etc., pass your knowledge on! There are still many people in this world who are virtually unaware of the types of attacks that happen daily. Elderly people are particularly vulnerable and are targeted often because of it.
If we can take the time to train people on ways they can protect themselves (formally or informally), we can limit the number of people who fall victim to scams.
Lock It Down
Strong, secure passwords are easy and effective ways to limit your risks. Long, random, and complex passwords make it much more challenging for anyone unwanted to gain access to your data.
And use a password manager.
There are numerous programs out there that keep track of your long and complex passwords for you, and even generate secure ones for new sites you sign up for. This is a great way to ensure that the vulnerability of your accounts is limited, and even if one site is compromised, ensuring that it’s unlikely others are with it.
While an “easy button” doesn’t exist for protecting yourself, there are a handful of things you can do right now to protect your personal information.
By consistently updating all your connected devices, freezing your credit, educating yourself and others about common scams, and locking your accounts down with hyper-secure passwords, you limit the chances that your information is compromised.
Despite it becoming more and more common for accounts, credit, data, and information to get stolen, you can do your part to make sure it doesn’t happen to you or the people you know.