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We have all seen these flashing boxes while browsing the web and dismiss them immediately for being a threat to our cyber security. A rule of thumb when it comes to your online security is, “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”  A lot of threats online are not as easy to identify as these obnoxious flashing boxes.  Every day, people are finding new ways to lure unsuspecting individuals into providing their personal information so that somehow, the perpetrator can financially benefit at your cost.

When it comes to cyber security, here is a list of tips and tricks to better protect yourself.

  • Have a password on your home network. The first line of defense is protecting yourself locally by having a password to log into your internet service.
  • Make sure your firewall is enabled. There are two types of firewalls, hardware and software firewalls.  Hardware firewalls are a part of your network.  Software firewalls are a part of your operating system.  Both types are automatically installed with your computer but it is always good to make sure these firewalls are enabled.
  • When it comes to email safety, if you don’t recognize the sender of the email, don’t open it. Never trust unsolicited emails.
  • Treat email attachments with caution. Many operating systems have a “scan email attachments for threats” add-on.  Even with attachments from people you may know, it can still be beneficial to scan email attachments.
  • If an unknown email sender is asking you to click on a link, do not click on the link. These are called “phishing emails.” Phishing emails will come from sources that resemble a legitimate operation but will steal your information once clicked or upload malicious software (Malware) to your computer.
  • Have an anti-virus software on your computer and make sure it is up to date. An up-to-date anti-virus software will detect threats and delete them from your computer. Usually, anti-virus software will update automatically to protect you from new threats.
  • Sometimes, viruses do make it to your computer and can corrupt your data. A safeguard to not losing all your data is to regularly back up your information.  Most operating systems will back up your information regularly but it is always a good habit to check and see if your data has been backed up recently.
  • Browsing the web poses a lot of threats especially when online shopping. While shopping online, make sure the website is reputable and secure.  To know a website is secure, there will be a locked padlock icon next to the web address.  Sometimes, there will also be the word “secure” next to the web address.  Also, make sure the web address you are visiting starts with “https” rather than “http.”
  • One thing people can do to minimize your risk of a breach is having different passwords for different accounts. These passwords should be intricate with numbers, letters, capitalization, special characters and punctuation marks.
  • Be wary of websites asking for personal information. Make sure you only give information to trusted websites that you are 100% sure of the purpose.  Ask yourself if the website really needs this information before releasing it.

Every day, there are new threats to your cyber security. Hopefully, this list will help keep your personal information safe and minimize your risk while using the internet.

John Allenson



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