How to Protect Yourself
The Internet has transformed in the last several decades to become a tool that permeates nearly every aspect of our lives. Whether it's for online shopping or email, social media or news websites, the Internet is used daily for a variety of activities. However, it’s important to remember that in addition to offering convenient access to resources, the Web can also expose you to identity theft, fraud or other cybercrimes.
Protect yourself online
What we do online, whether at home or at work, has the potential to affect everyone. Instead of avoiding the Internet, which is a nearly impossible task, make an effort to smarten up your online habits:
- Keep your computers and mobile devices updated – Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
- Set strong passwords with at least eight characters in length and a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
- Use different passwords for every account – It may be easier to remember one password, but if the password and email address you use for one account gets in the hands of the wrong person, they will start trying it on other sites and services.
- Think before you click – Be vigilant about the links you click in an email, especially when they come from companies. Don’t click on odd Facebook messages with links. If your friend is sending the email, make sure it sounds like the person you know; otherwise his or her account could have been compromised.
- Watch out for phishing scams that use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from unfamiliar sources. To report a suspicious email that is related to your UMB account, please forward the email to us immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Keep personal information personal – Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
- Secure your Internet connection – Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connected to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending .
- Shop securely online – Avoid sending payment information or credit card numbers through email. Make sure all personal information transactions are done on a secure site. When shopping online, only use trusted, secure websites. Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure the address bar changes from an “http” to an “https” address and includes a padlock logo to the right or left of the browser address bar. The “s” stands for “secure,” and if you double-click on the padlock logo, you’ll see a digital certificate for the website. When shopping online, use credit cards, not debit cards. This will minimize the damage in the event of a compromised account.
- Pay attention – It might seem obvious, but remember to keep your eyes open any time you’re using an Internet service.
Protect your mobile device
These days, most people own a smartphone or a tablet, or in many cases, both. They help us stay connected, be more efficient and make it easier to coordinate our busy personal and professional lives. It's easy to take for granted the type of information you're accessing and sharing on these devices, but what may seem to be insignificant information could provide an attacker with an opportunity.
Given that so much information is stored or accessed through our mobile devices, it’s very important to keep these devices secure, which is not difficult to do.!
Here are a few simple steps to help you protect your personal and company information:
- Protect your phone from viruses and malicious software, or malware, just like you do for your computer by installing mobile security software.
- Avoid storing sensitive information like passwords or a social security number on your mobile device. Confidential company or customer information should never be stored on a personal device and only accessed using the appropriate approved tools.
- Use caution when downloading apps. Apps can contain malicious software, worms, and viruses. Beware of apps that ask for unnecessary permissions.
- Update the software for your phone and mobile apps whenever a new version is released, which may contain critical security updates.
- Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Enable the “Find your device” feature, if available.
- Clear your mobile device before you donate, sell or trade it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique.
- Beware of mobile phishing. Avoid opening links and attachments in emails and texts, especially from senders you don’t know. And be wary of ads (not from your security provider) claiming that your device is infected.
- Watch out for public Wi-Fi. Avoid online shopping, banking or other activities that require use of sensitive information when using public Wi-Fi. Use your mobile network whenever possible.
Protect your business
Learn more about protecting your business with basic security tips to keep your customers and your business safe online.
Information security sources and resources
The above tips are a great way to start protecting your identity, your information and your devices. To read more about information security, visit the following resource websites:
- Federal Trade Commission Scam Alerts‡
- Federal Trade Commission- Identity Theft‡
- Department of Homeland Security – Avoid Scams‡
- UMB – Preventing Identity Theft