The internet touches almost all aspects of our daily lives. We’re able to shop, bank, connect with family and friends, and handle our medical records, all online. Some of activities require you to provide Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as your name, date of birth, account numbers, passwords, and location information. Here are some simple steps to maintain vigilance when sharing personal information online to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of data loss and other cybersecurity-related crimes:
- Double your login protection
Where available, enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted platform or device such as a smart card (integrated circuit card), an authenticator app, or a secure token, which is a small physical device that can hook onto your key ring.
- Shake up your password protocol
According to NIST guidance, you should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites, which can prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach.
- Be up to date
Keep your software updated to the latest stable version available. Maintain your security posture and keep your information safe by setting your security software to run regular scans.
- Play hard to get with strangers
Cyber criminals use social engineering tactics (such as phishing), hoping to fool their victims. If you’re unsure who an email is from—even if the details appear accurate— or if the email looks “phishy,” do not respond and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. Where available, ensure digital certificates are used on emails to validate the authenticity of the sender. Use the “junk” or “block” option to no longer receive messages from an invalid/suspicious sender.
- Never click and tell
Limit the information you post on social media, from personal addresses to where you like to grab coffee, since these seemingly random details are all that criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and your physical belongings, both online and in the real world. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords private, as well as specific information about yourself such as your full name, address, birthday, and even vacation plans. Disable location services that allow anyone to see where you are—and where you aren’t—at any given time.
- Keep tabs on your apps
Most connected appliances, toys, and devices are supported by a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved—gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and use the “principle of least privilege” to delete what you don’t need or no longer use. Learn to just say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.
- Stay protected while connected
Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot—such as at an airport, hotel, or café—be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good Internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (e.g., banking) that require passwords or credit cards. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. Only use sites that begin with “https://” when online shopping or banking. For an additional layer of security, use a trusted VPN to encrypt your data in transit.
Bonus: Stay Secure While Traveling
In a world where we are constantly connected, cybersecurity cannot be limited to the home or office. When you’re traveling (whether domestic or international) it is always important to practice safe online behavior and take proactive steps to secure internet-enabled devices. The more we travel, the more we are at risk for cyberattacks. In addition to previous advice given for online privacy- use these tips to connect with confidence while on the go:
- Back up your information
Before you go, back up your critical information to another trusted device or platform in case your device is compromised.
- Keep it locked
Lock your device when you are not using it. Even if you only step away for a few minutes, that is enough time for someone to steal or misuse your information. Set your devices to lock after a short time and use strong PINs and passwords.
- Stop auto connecting
Some devices will automatically seek and connect to available wireless networks or Bluetooth devices. This instant connection opens the door for cyber criminals to remotely access your devices. Disable these features so that you actively choose when to connect to a safe network.
- Guard your mobile device
To prevent theft and unauthorized access or loss of sensitive information, never leave your equipment—including any USB or external storage devices—unattended in a public place. Keep your devices secured in taxis, at airports, on airplanes, and in your hotel room.
Learn more about Pelco’s commitment to cybersecure surveillance solutions.