With new cyber threats evolving every day, taking control of your cyber security is as important as ever. Here are a few ways you can help protect yourself, and things you should know as you take action to protect your identity online.
Strengthen your passwords
Plenty of people out there use passwords such as 123456 and password. Don’t be one of them. In the coming year, you may see more companies and service providers suggesting passwords for you. These will often be completely random and long, consisting of up to 16 characters, letters, and numbers. This, along with multi-factor authentication, will help further secure your data. Here are some other factors to consider when you are building new passwords:
- Consider using a Password Vault
- Don’t use dictionary words for your password
- Don’t use easily identifiable personal information for your password
- Don’t share your passwords with other people
- Don’t use the same password for different accounts
- Use a passphrase to create longer passwords that are easier to remember
Be aware of the ever-growing IoT
IoT stands for Internet of Things. Chances are you already have a few of these devices in your home. They include anything that uses your Wi-Fi to function, such as scales, refrigerators, smart speakers and televisions, and kid’s toys. Experts suggest adding passwords to items whenever possible and updating your home’s Wi-Fi password often.
Practice safe browsing
As you browse the internet and scroll through email this year, know that schemes like ransomware are on the rise. Ransomware can affect businesses and individuals alike, and causes damage by denying access to your systems or holding your data hostage until you pay a ransom. Ransomware typically infects your system through compromised websites or email links. Limit your risk for ransomware attacks and similar schemes by only clicking on trusted links, and visiting websites that are secure. For starters, look for the lock icon or “https” at the front of the website’s URL address, which indicates a safe, secure encryption on the page.
Be aware of phishing scams
Phishing scams carried out through email, phone and messenger apps show no signs of slowing down in 2020. Phishing scams can be difficult to detect, because they often appear to be coming from an organization or person that you know and trust. Make sure you are up to speed with the latest scam trends, and if you feel you’ve been victimized, be sure to call First Tech at 855.855.8805, along with any other financial institutions where your data could have been affected. In addition, be sure to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission here. The FTC also has a helpful resource for recognizing and avoiding phishing scams.
As a rule of thumb, treat any communication that is requesting sensitive information-- whether the email seems to be from the IRS, a financial institution, or a service provider like your cable company--as suspicious. Government and financial institutions have well-defined and specific methods of requesting information from you, and will not make such requests through an email link or direct call or text.
File your taxes ASAP
The risk of tax fraud increases the longer you wait to file your taxes. Scammers can target your employer the same way they target your personal finances. If a criminal gains access to your W-2 through your employer, they can file your tax returns pretending to be you, and you may not know about it for weeks or months. The longer you wait, the bigger the window is for scammers to carry out this fraud. Take control and file your taxes as soon as possible.
Our security teams are on patrol
The First Tech IT and Security teams are constantly working to keep you safe and secure in your digital life. Learn more about how you can protect your financial information by predicting, preventing, detecting and responding to a range of threats in our Member Security Program.