Safe Computing at Home

Safe computing begins at home. Whether we're checking our bank account or Facebook, being aware of where we are on the Internet and what information we're conveying is the key to online safety. Like any physical place, being aware of yourself and your surroundings in cyberspace is the first step towards enhancing your cybersecurity. Always be cautious about sharing information: cybercriminals can use that against you when planning an attack.

Stop Before You Share

Limit the information you share
  • Be careful about sharing your information over the phone, in an email or via text message. If you did not initiate the contact be especially cautious.
  • Limit the information you share on social media. Utilize the privacy settings on all your accounts and don't use location features. The information you share online could be used by someone attempting fraud.
  • On portable devices, only give applications the permissions they really need. Be wary of applications asking for too much access. Granting an application access to your photos, location, camera, contacts, etc., makes your data and information available to the application owner and can undermine your privacy.
  • Only share personal information on secure sites (e.g. “https://”). Make sure you see the 'Do not use sites with invalid certificates'. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that creates a more secure connection. Look for the lock next to the website address near the top of your Internet browser.
  • Keep in mind that scammers may try to take advantages of financial fears by calling, emailing or texting with work-from-opportunities, debt consolidation offers, and student loan repayment plans.
  • Remember that the government will not call, email or text you about owing money or receiving payments.
  • If your bank or financial institution calls you about your account, ask for a name, tell them you're busy at the moment and that you'll call them back at their listed number when you're available.

Think Before You Click

Shop smart when using the Internet for purchases
  • Beware of ads instructing you you to click on a link. If you receive a sales offer, don't click on the link. Instead, go directly to the company’s website to verify the offer is legitimate.
  • Watch out for fake e-commerce sites. Prior to making a purchase, read reviews to hear what others say about the merchant. In addition, look for a physical location and any customer service information. It’s also a good idea to call the merchant to confirm that they are legitimate.
  • Use a credit card online - It is better than using a debit card as there are more consumer protections for credit cards if something heads south. You can also use a third party payment service instead of your credit card. There are many services you can use to pay for purchases – like PayPal — without giving the merchant your credit card information directly.
  • Don't give out too much information while shopping online. If the merchant is requesting more data than you feel comfortable sharing, cancel the transaction. You only need to fill out required fields at checkout and you should not save your payment information with the merchant. If the account autosaves it, after the purchase go in and delete the stored payment details.
  • Monitor your existing lines of credit for fraudulent activity. Additionally, consider freezing your credit to prevent fraudsters from using your identity to establish new lines of credit. This service is offered free of charge from Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
  • Beware of email you're not expecting. Don't open email or attachments from unknown senders. Always look to see where the email came from. Never just rely on the name of the sender; always check the email address from where the message originated. It will be next to the senders name at the top of the email.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to compromise your information. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete it.

Connect with Confidence

Use online connections safely and securely
  • Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to log in to any website or application you use for financial transactions or that has access to your personal data. MFA is essentially another factor—beyond your username and password—used to verify your identity and protect access to your account.
  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots—like the ones at coffee shops, airports, hotels, etc. Instead, stick to the mobile network and create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot with your phone. If you must use public Wi-Fi, be sure to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so that others can’t intercept your communications.
  • Protecting your account username and password is fundamental to proper cybersecurity practices. We all have too many passwords to manage - and it's easy to take short-cuts, like reusing the same password. A password manager can help you to maintain strong unique passwords for all of your accounts. These programs can generate strong passwords for you, enter credentials automatically, and remind you to update your passwords periodically.
  • The physical security of your devices is just as important as their technical security. If you need to leave your laptop, phone, or tablet for any length of time - lock it up so no one else can use it. For desktop computers, lock your screen or shut-down the system when not in use.
  • Protect your home network by changing the administrative and Wi-Fi passwords regularly. When configuring your router, use either the instruction manual or speak to your internet-cable provider, to setup the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) setting, which is the strongest encryption option.
  • Considering how much we rely on our mobile devices and how susceptible they are to attack, you'll want to make sure they are protected. Lock your device with a PIN or password and only install apps from trusted sources - like the Apple AppStore or Google Play. Keep the device's operating system up-to-date and avoid transmitting or storing personal information on the device. You may also consider encrypting the device. Most handheld devices are capable of employing data encryption - consult your device's documentation for available options.
  • Use anti-virus software, anti-malware solutions and firewalls to block threats and keep software applications and operating systems up-to-date.