Quick Tips

31 Personal Cybersecurity Tips to Help Protect You From Online Threats

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Personal cybersecurity isn’t always top of mind when we’re getting new smart home technology, browsing the internet or even putting things away in our cloud storage. Just take a look at these numbers and you’ll see why it should be: In the first half of 2018 alone, there were 945 data breaches, exposing 4.5 billion data records, according to one study. Among the biggest that year were popular brands, including Marriott Starwood hotels, Facebook and T-Mobile. 

In short, hackers are more sophisticated than ever before, and, as consumers, we should do all that we can to protect our sensitive data. That’s why this October — National Cybersecurity Awareness Month — we’re sharing 31 cybersecurity tips to ensure you and your family take all the precautions in guarding your personal information.

1. Create a strong password.

By now, we should all be familiar with the guidelines for having a strong password: make it a phrase with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Need a little more advice for this cybersecurity tip? Read our blog about passwords!

2. Don’t use the same password for all of your online accounts.

If a hacker gains access to one of your accounts, he or she could then try your login information on your other online accounts. 

3. Try out a password manager.

Are you having a hard time remembering all your strong passwords? A password manager could come in handy. Store all your passwords safely, and you’ll only have to remember the one to your manager.

4. Change out your password after a breach.

Has a company that you’ve subscribed to suffered a security breach? You’ll want to swap out your password, especially if you’re unsure what sensitive information may have been leaked.

5. Be smart about what you share.

Your Facebook friends don’t need to know when you’re out on vacation for five days (read: your house is unattended for five days). Nor do they need to see images of your naked baby in a tub. Remember that a digital life could last longer than you think

6. Back up your data regularly.

This will save you the headache should you lose any information from a cyberattack. You can back up data onto an external hard drive or on your online cloud storage.

7. Keep your software up to date.

Hackers have capitalized in the last few years by finding entry points into computer systems from those who have not updated their software. Updates can patch up any of these loose ends.

8. Never leave devices unattended.

This may be tempting if you’ve set up shop at a local coffee shop and need to pick up your drink or use the bathroom. Leaving devices unattended can increase the chances that they are swiped.

9. Use screen locks on all of your devices.

Adding screen locks — password-protecting your devices — will make it harder for anyone to access them.

10. Use anti-virus protection.

A no-brainer: Protect your devices with software that can detect and protect from malicious viruses. 

11. Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi.

We all love the convenience of public Wi-Fi. You don’t have to use your limited cellular data, after all. But, these are still public networks, accessible by other users, so you won’t want to carry out any important tasks in which you share sensitive information on them.

12. Use a VPN or a personal/mobile hotspot for a more secure connection.

If you’re out and about and need to take care of important matters online, use a personal/mobile hotspot or a VPN, virtual private network,  instead. These are much safer options than a public wireless network.

13. Use two-factor verification.

Two-factor verification adds an extra layer of security when you log in to your accounts. You’ll enter the password, and you’ll likely get a one-time code on your mobile device to gain entry to the account.

14. Ensure you have backup codes for accounts with two-factor verification.

Technology doesn’t last forever. And, if and when the second device you’re using for two-factor verification dies, you don’t want to be locked out of your account. Backup codes will ensure access for those situations.

15. Read the fine print before downloading browser extensions.

Browser extensions have made a few headlines as of late, mostly due to the fact that many collect information from your website usage. Before you add on that newest tool, know exactly what you’re getting into.

16. Don’t be fooled by a phishing scam.

Look for telltale signs that an email you received is legitimate. Check the sending email is actually from said company, and be wary if there are any misspellings or grammar mistakes. If you really can’t tell, contact the company on your own accord and verify with them.

17. Be wary of suspicious links.

Hover over the link to see where it leads. If it isn’t headed to where you think it should, don’t click on it. And, definitely stay away from links from senders that you may not know or those in suspicious emails.

18. Secure your home Wi-Fi network.

Add a password to your home network, and change the one that is provided to you from your service provider. 

19. Review your digital footprint.

Think of this as some year-round spring cleaning. Take stock of all your online accounts. Delete the ones that you no longer use, and be sure the other accounts have updated information and strong passwords.

20. Review open sessions of your accounts. 

Some online accounts, like Facebook or Gmail, will allow you to see where that account has an “open session,” or from where it is logged in. Review these regularly to ensure you’re the only one accessing the account.

21. Review devices connected to your accounts.

Similarly, online accounts can show you what types of devices are logged into the account. If, for example, you see Mac OS, but you’ve never logged on with an Apple device, you’ll know that someone else has accessed your account.

22. Review apps connected to your accounts.

This is particularly true with Facebook, which allows users to connect apps using the social account. Make sure that all apps are ones that you’ve coupled yourself, and delete any that appear sketchy.

23. Ensure your mobile apps are up to date.

Just like computer software, your mobile apps will require updates every so often for regular maintenance or security reasons. You’ll want to be running the latest version of your mobile apps, as they are likely the safest.

24. Turn off location services on apps that don’t require it.

This is likely one of your biggest concerns, especially with children. Location services don’t need to be on for certain apps, like Tik Tok or other social accounts, and doing so can share more information with other online users than is necessary.

25. Review privacy controls on social networks.

Who can see your child’s social media posts? Is yours a public account? Look over social accounts to be assured that your permissions and privacy controls are to your liking.

26. Don’t leave emails with sensitive information in your inbox.

If you’ve just bought a new home or had your taxes done, chances are that you have some sensitive information hanging around your inbox. Clear it out when you’re done with it so, should your email get hacked, you won’t have honey in the pot.

27. Encrypt emails with sensitive information.

Encrypting emails or attachments to emails assures that only people with the right information — usually a passcode that you set — can see that document. 

28. Be aware of cyberbullying.

Bullying has taken on a new form online, and it can be just as brutal. Check out our blog on how to spot cyberbullying and the steps you should take afterward.

29. Use parental controls.

Parental controls are just one way you can limit what your child does online. Check out what parental controls your internet service provider and television provider include in the packages that you currently have. Know, though, that parental controls are merely a supplement and are not intended to be the end-all, be-all of keeping tabs of your child’s online activities.

30. Cover your webcams when not in use.

Some hackers have been known to spy on device users through their own webcams. Covering your webcams when you’re not using them ensures that any potential watchers will not see anything compromising.

31. Clear your browsing history and cookies regularly.

You’d likely be surprised at how much information is stored in your web browsing history and cookies. Clear these regularly so that any personal information will be erased.

Use these online security tips to protect you and your family from most cyber threats. Lock down your Kinetic Internet today.