8 Cyber Security Tips for Summer!

Summer has officially begun! The children are done with school. They are getting involved in activities, vacations are being planned and weekend getaways are being taken. All the above requires a vast amount of preparation and with preparation comes research. What is one of the most important and easily accessed resources we all have available to us? You got it…the Internet! It is so easy to jump on the computer and start surfing the Internet for the top rated vacation spots in the nation. That's why this is a good time for vacation-goers, as well as everyone else, to re-evaluate how they use the Internet and re-educate themselves on how to stay safe and secure when online at home or on vacation.

8 Cyber Security Tips for Summer!
  1. Educate, Educate, Educate! – Do you know the latest scams on the Internet right now? Educate yourself so that you are better equipped to defeat them. Phishing is a form of identity theft in which the intent is to steal your personal data, such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information. Read up on the latest phishing scams and learn how to recognize them. The BIT blog has a great read for this topic! Review Gone Phishing to learn more!
  2. Think Before You Click – Be cautious of what you are clicking on. If you don’t know the person sending you emails or messages on social media platforms, DON’T CLICK! Even if you know and trust the sender of the email, instant message or a friend's social networking page, it is still important to use caution when navigating pages and clicking on links or images.  Remember the above information on phishing scams? That’s right, these links could be attempts to lure you in and download malware that is designed to steal personal information. 
  3. Secure Your Computer– An easy way to secure your computer is by having a firewall installed and enabled. Firewalls are you best line of defense.  Most operating systems come with a firewall, but it won't help you if you don't activate it!  Firewalls monitor traffic between your computer or network and the Internet. In addition to firewalls, use protection software! The use of protection software is designed to protect you against spyware or malware, which can extract private information from your computer without your knowledge.
  4. Stop Ignoring Those Updates! Update your security software, it’s not difficult! Use security software that update automatically to provide maximum protection from viruses, spyware and other cyber threats. By regularly updating software it will eliminate security weaknesses. It is important to conduct regular malware scans of your computer, and update your operating system and browser with the manufacturer's latest security patches. The good news for you is that most operating systems and browsers regularly provide free software updates! Take advantage of those to optimize your security.
  5. Strong Passwords Your password must contain an uppercase letter, a number, a hieroglyph, a feather from a hawk and the blood of a unicorn. Okay, maybe it isn’t that bad, but some days it seems that way! Short, simple passwords may be easier to remember, but they're also easier for hackers to crack. Use strong passwords on all your accounts that include a minimum of eight characters and a mix of special symbols, letters, and numbers. Developing good password practices will help keep your personal information and identity more secure.
  6. Protect Your DeviceYour smartphone is probably your lifeline these days. Along with your smartphone you have tablets and laptops you will travel with during vacation. Think about all the accounts and applications running on those devices that automatically sign you in! If your device fell into the wrong hands, would you be comfortable sharing all the information it contains with the rest of the world? Me either! Establish a password on all devices and disable the Bluetooth as well as the Wi-Fi functions when not in use. Furthermore, never let them out of your sights. Keep them with you at all times while at the airport and be sure to store devices in the hotel room safe while going out for the day. Learn more about securing your smartphone here!
  7. Secure Wireless Networks – Did you catch the recent blog post Password, Please on the risks involved with others having access to your wireless network? Don't let your home network's wireless router be a welcome mat for hackers. There are steps you can take to minimize the risks and make sure you have a secure wireless network: enable the firewall on your router, regularly change the router's administrative password, ensure your router has a strong encryption, and use the filtering feature, which allows you to designate and restrict which computers can connect to your wireless network. You’re on vacation and you need Wi-Fi to survive (or so it seems)! Did you know that public computers and public wireless access are not secure? Cyber criminals can potentially access any information you provide, such as credit card numbers, confidential information, or passwords.
  8. Secure Your Online Transaction- Found the perfect summer suit? Go ahead and order it, but first keep a few things in mind! When submitting your sensitive information like a credit card number, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar to be sure your information is secure during transmission. The "https" that appears in the website's address bar is another visual que. The "s" stands for "secure," and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted. Remember what you learned from tip #6 while on vacation, it’s important to never conduct any sensitive transactions at free Wi-Fi locations!
Putting the best tips and tools in place to insure you are protected is a much simpler process than recovering from a security breach. The weather is perfect and a wide open road is in front of you, it’s time to take a vacation! Don’t let a preventable situation ruin it, take the above steps today!

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