How to not become a cyber security victim

August 09, 2020
2020 has given us quite a bit to worry about- avoiding Covid-19, keeping practices afloat during quarantine, juggling having children home with work. But amid all this, don't forget a nagging, ongoing threat: cyber security.

This week alone breaches were reported by Lululemon and Blackbaud. Earlier this year, Marriott and Nintendo reported hacks. Typically the target is user information, which can be sold or used to open false accounts, get payment information or even extort the victim.

In today's day and age, it's very difficult to avoid exposure to cyber security threats. But here are 5 very simple things you can do that will greatly reduce your risk of being seriously exposed.
1- Don't use the same password for every site
The Lululemon hack specifically grabbed users email addresses and passwords. Think about it: if your email and password for Lululemon was the same for your PayPal account, you're a siting duck for hackers to access payment information or go on a spending spree. Investing in a high-security password management system such as LastPass is an easy and robust way to ensure your passwords are unique and hard to hack.

2- Protect your WiFi connection
Breaking into a computer via WiFi is surprisingly simple for hackers. When possible, hard wire into your internet connection or sign up for a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service like Nord VPN that will protect your computer from wandering WiFi eyes. This is especially important on public connections like at a hotel or Starbucks, but your home WiFi can be just as vulnerable.
3- Don't click links or use phone numbers that are sent over email, texts, or phone
If your bank emails or calls, visit their website by typing it into your browser or call back the main number independently to make sure you're reaching the right destination, not a hacker.

4- Clear cookies and browser information regularly, and don't store payment information
While it's very convenient to have log ins auto populate for you, it's also very easy for a third party to grab that information. Best practice is to regularly delete search history, cookies, and auto fill information. Also, whether it's through your browser or a retailer like Pottery Barn, it's best not to store payment information. No need to give hackers easy access to your credit card.

5- Pay for Malware Protection
Norton, McAfee and PC Protect are just a few highly rated Malware protection software programs. (I have 3 on my computer) These may not protect against every threat. These should automatically run on your computer, but its a good idea to manually scan occasionally too.

We have enough to worry about with Covid and flu season- don't let computer viruses get added to that list.

Have a healthy, cyber safe week!

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