Q: I heard that October was National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. I do a lot of shopping online, and the thought of having my information stolen through one of the many websites I use scares me. Do you have any tips you recommend to help keep my information protected?
A: You’re absolutely correct! October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It’s great that you want to take steps to make sure your information is protected. So many people shop online and don’t even think of the potential repercussions that come along with putting your credit card or other personal information on the web.
While nothing is ever 100 percent foolproof, there are a few things you can do to help minimize your risk.
Use strong passwords – It’s best to create long and unique passwords for each account, and change them frequently. You should also consider using two-factor authentication for all your accounts which requires you to enter a special code as well as your password. If you have trouble remembering all your passwords, do NOT store them on your computer or in your phone. Write them down and store them in a safe place away from any electronic devices.
Stay Safe – Make sure the website you’re using is in httpS form and includes the lock symbol. Be wary about using open Wi-Fi networks, as hackers can easily gain access to your personal information; and pay using a credit card, as those typically offer more protection from the banks.
Beware phishing emails – Phishing emails are emails that are designed to look legitimate, but they are not. They can appear to be from someone you’ve done business with in an attempt to steal your information by having you log onto the fraudulent website, or by clicking a link and unknowingly downloading malware onto your computer.
If you receive any email with a link attached, hover your mouse over the link to see exactly where it is taking you before clicking.
Keep your operating system up-to-date and use antivirus software – Software updates are critical for the function of your computer as they contain critical security updates and vulnerability patches.
Installing reputable antivirus software and regularly scanning for viruses can help protect your computer from well-known malware.
Delete data you no longer need – Deleting old data you don't need will minimize the amount of information available to a hacker in the event they gain access to those devices. If you don't need data, encrypt it and move it to an offline storage device, or just delete it all together.
Remember, the internet isn’t the only place hackers can steal your information.
Shredding event – BBB is putting on a free shred event that is a part of the National Secure Your ID Day, Saturday, Oct. 13 in the Lifestyle Furniture parking lot on the southeast corner of Shaw and Blackstone avenues.
For more tips, visit bbb.org.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems toAction Line at the BetterBusiness Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or email@example.com.