According to Statista.com, more than 312 million people in the U.S. regularly used the internet in 2018. Seventy-nine percent of the population had a social media presence. And with the explosive growth of smart devices and mobile connectivity in recent years, most of us are online every day. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 28 percent of adults in the U.S. even report they go online “almost constantly.”
We love our connectivity and convenience. Most households nowadays have multiple devices linked to the internet, including computers, TVs, gaming systems, TVs, tablets, smartphones, wearable devices, even smart appliances.
But connectivity and convenience come with a price: vulnerability to cyber threats.
Whether it’s spam and phishing scams, malware, smart device vulnerabilities, or gaming risks, there are seemingly endless ways for cyber criminals to find you. And all too often, cyber crimes are aided by simple human carelessness. So, educate yourself about the risks and take measures to protect yourself and your family.
Here are seven tips for keeping cyber criminals out of your home:
- Secure your wireless home network. Your wireless router is the gateway to the internet. Unfortunately, it’s also the gateway to your network for cyber criminals if it’s not secure. Start by changing the default name (SSID) and default administrative passwords. Set the security level at WPA2 or WPA rather than the less secure WEP. Use a firewall and keep the device firmware up to date.
- Secure your devices. Keep all devices updated with the latest operating systems, web browsers, and antivirus software. And when using mobile devices, create strong passwords, only install apps from trusted sources, and regularly back up your data with iCloud or another cloud service.
- Use robust but sensible passwords. Forget the nonsensical jumble of letters, numbers, and symbols. Make your passwords usable such as a short sentence or phrase you’ll remember. Create separate passphrases for every account and use a password management software program to store them.
- Protect your private information. We all have a plethora of personal information – addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, Social Security numbers, etc. – and cyber criminals want it all. Be extremely cautious of what you share and where you share it when online.
- Don’t be a target for scams. Malicious emails can mimic legitimate business emails, so be extremely cautious about clicking on links or opening attachments. Enable your spam filters and be suspicious of emails from people you don’t know. Hover your mouse over any links to see where they lead before clicking.
- Shop smart online. We all love the convenience of shopping online. Just be smart about it. Only buy from reputable retailers, research products before you buy, and choose safe payment options such as a credit card. And make sure the website has security enabled (look for web addresses with “https” at the beginning, not just “http”).
Following these seven tips will give you a solid first line of defense against cyber criminals. And don’t forget – October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to review your online habits and security measures.
Want even more protection from cyber threats? Contact BNC Insurance today.