5 Simple Steps to Protect Your Digital Information

The spooks and demons of October aren’t limited to the trick-or-treaters knocking at your door. Scary monsters also are trying to gain access to your computer and mobile devices.

So, it’s fitting that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, an observance sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance.

In the spirit of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Navigant’s information security team is offering weekly cybersecurity tips. This week, we offer five simple steps to protect yourself from online attacks.

Check Your Virus Protection
Making sure your virus protection is up to date is a good way to prevent viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other malicious software code from infecting your computer and mobile devices. The latest virus protection tools include anti-spyware and anti-malware, while internet security software includes spam and phishing protection.

Change Your Passwords
Make it more difficult for hackers by changing and strengthening your passwords. Avoid using common names and phrases, and don’t use familiar number patterns or birth dates. Add uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Use different passwords for different logins.

Two-Factor Authentication
Add a layer of password protection using two-factor authentication, which requires you to not only log in using a password, but also use a second method to confirm your identity. A common example would be entering your password on a mobile device, and then receiving a dynamic pass code by email or text, which must be entered as the second form of authentication. Most commercial email and online banking systems now offer two-factor authentication.

Never Trust Your Email
Never open an attachment or click on a link in your email if you don’t know and trust the sender. They may contain a virus or malware that can quickly take over your computer. Photos and videos also are places where hidden malware and ransomware could exist.

Common-Sense Social Media
Use common sense with social media. Don’t reveal sensitive information on social media, or post photos letting the world know you’re vacationing in Turks and Caicos. You might find your house burglarized upon your return. Social media also can be an entry point for hackers. If you have 1,000 “friends” on Facebook, you may only know 50 of them really well.

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