October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. It’s time to take stock of the security measures you’ve been using to see if you’re properly protected. The Internet makes shopping and banking easier, but it also makes things easier for digital thieves. The good news is there are a few steps you can take to protect sensitive information and make your online transactions more secure. Organizations such as Better Business Bureau and OnGuardOnline.gov, the federal government’s cyber security education website, provide a wealth of information on how to stay safe online.
Here are six tips to protect your financial transactions.
- Don’t overshare. Social media is a great way to connect with friends and loved ones, but it’s best not to publicly post personal information. Limit what you post on social media sites or online forums and activate your privacy settings. You never know who might be lurking online.
- Lock your computer. Lock your computer whenever you step away from your desk at work. I can’t stress this one enough. A few years ago, I stepped away from my desk, and when I came back, an intern was reading my email. Ever since that incident, I always lock my computer and make sure that a password is needed to open my screen.
- Set strong passwords. Using a combination of upper and lowercase letters and numbers can make it harder to guess your password. But the work doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve made up a cyber-criminal-proof password, don’t give it out to anyone.
- Install updates. Don’t ignore those messages urging you to update your software. This simple step can save you a world of trouble.
- Use firewalls and anti-virus software. Firewalls and anti-virus protection are crucial to shielding your computer from threats. There are even some great products available that are free of charge. One free anti-virus software of note is ZoneAlarm.
- Beware of emails requesting financial information. If you get an email requesting you to verify financial account information online, beware. Even if the communication appears to be from your bank, there’s still a chance it could be from a cyber criminal, seeking to steal your financial information. Always call your bank directly, and make sure it’s the same number you usually use.
What are you doing to protect yourself online? Share some of your best tips below.