A Beginner's Guide to Cybersecurity

January 23, 2017

Cybersecurity is an unfortunate threat that faces everyone who uses the internet to access email, social media or purchase items. Last month, Yahoo! announced that a data breach exposed personal information for one billion of its accounts. According to the 2016 Internet Threat Security Report, internet security breaches led to 429 million identity exposures in just one year. And it doesn’t take long for an attacker to access your information. According to a study conducted by Verizon, in 93 percent of data breaches, an attacker needs minutes or less to steal your credit card information, personal photos and videos or work files. So what can you do to limit your risk of an attacker obtaining your information? Here are six steps you can take right now to help secure your personal data online.

1. Choose Two-Factor Authentication Whenever Possible: Many password-protected websites allow you to enable an extra layer of protection for your account, in addition to your password. This is called two-factor authentication. This second layer of security can take several forms, such as asking a secondary question of your choice (like your pet’s name) to sending a text message to your cell phone to authorize use of your account. Two-factor authentication makes your accounts much harder to hack.

2. Use a Password Manager: Password managers like LastPass and Dashline store and save all your passwords, generate more secure passwords and generally make accessing all of your personal information online safer, more secure and easier to access. Research a password manager to find the one that best suits your needs.

3. Take a Close Look at Every Link Before You Click: Phishing scams occur when an attacker poses as a trusted source, like a popular charity, to try to obtain your personal information. When you get an email, for instance, that asks you to enter your credit card number, double check the validity of the requestor. Look to see if the URL in the email matches the URL on the company’s website. If you need to, call the company to verify the legitimacy of the request. Regardless, your bank or credit card company will never ask you to enter your credit or debit card information in this way.

4. Increase Your Privacy Settings on Social Media: According to Facebook, 600,000 of its accounts are compromised by attackers each day. In addition to avoiding links from websites you don’t recognize, make sure you set your privacy levels to their highest setting on all social media accounts. This will help keep illicit third parties from hacking your account and using it as a gateway to other personal information.

5. Keep Your Data Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks: Public Wi-Fi networks are frequent sources of hacks. Attackers can set up fake Wi-Fi networks that will give them access to your data. In addition, make sure you never set your phone to auto login to Wi-Fi hotspots and only log into networks from trusted providers.

6. Make Sure Your Software is Up-To-Date: 99 percent of computers are vulnerable to attacks from security holes in software. Software companies try their best to keep their software security as up-to-date as possible, but in order to take advantage of this, you need to update your software as often as possible. Set up reminders on your computer so you can know when to update key pieces of software. Lastly, always back up your data. You never know when disaster may strike and you don’t want to lose your photos, music or work files. There’s no perfect solution to securing your data, but by taking the steps outlined above, you can reduce your risk of identity exposure.



Disclaimer: The information contained within this report has been obtained from sources deemed to be reliable; however, we do not guarantee its accuracy. You should make your own independent evaluation of the relevance and adequacy of the information contained in this material and make such other investigations as you deem necessary, including obtaining legal, financial and/or tax advice. Back to top