Simple Steps to Online Safety

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Is your Facebook account safe? Can a hacker get into your Instagram account? Each year millions of people have their social media accounts hacked, which can lead to personal information being stolen such as private photos, social security numbers and even home addresses. There have been cases where homes were invaded because users posted pictures on social media indicating they were out of town and someone took the opportunity to break in. Have you searched for your name on a website like pipl.com or even Google? Give it a go! In this week’s Cybersecurity Awareness article we will cover five cybersecurity threats as well as nine simple ways to protect yourself.

An article from designnews.com states the top five cybersecurity threats are Information Theft, Hacks of Mobile Payment Systems, Chip-and-PIN Card Attacks, Cloud Hacks and Extortion Hacks (think Target or Yahoo). Everyone has either had their own information stolen or know of someone who has. The new technology produced every day to make our lives easier also makes our information more accessible to hackers. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat or any other platform you use to post and read others’ life stories can all be used to snatch your personal information. Hackers can take advantage of consumers who utilize the same username/password combo for their social media as their bank accounts. Surely you’ve heard of the recent Cloud Hacks. Some celebrities had their personal photos released, but what you didn’t hear about was the thousands of people who had banking/investing documents compromised. We could talk about threats forever, but let’s go over some preventative measures that’ll keep your information yours.

Here are nine simple ways to protect your privacy:

1) Have a STRONG password (a combination of numbers, characters and letters) and make sure every account you have has a different password.
2) Keep your computer virus-free. Hackers can use viruses to lock up your data and ask for a ransom to get it back.
3) Turn off third-party cookies on the browser you use so websites/marketers cannot track your habits. There are plug-ins available that force your browser to only use secure, encrypted sites.
4) Use various search engines. Most search engines keep tabs on your activity so they can pick ads that suit your taste and give you misleading information.
5) Make sure your social media accounts are not public so the whole world isn’t able to see everything you post. Share your posts only with friends or be choosy about what you share.
6) If someone asks for your personal information, consider why they might need it before providing it.
7) Beware of phishing! Scammers now use websites, phone calls and emails to trick you into giving up your information using high-pressure tactics such as claiming to be the IRS or to infect your computer or phone with a virus.
8) Do not download questionable software to your devices. Look for only trusted developers and sources.
9) Do not use unsecure Wi-Fi connections such as the free Wi-Fi at Starbucks or McDonald’s to convey any private information. You never know who could be watching your internet traffic!
By following these nine simple steps, you can better secure your social media foot print and protect your information in cyberspace.