Every time you check there seems to be more news on cyberattacks and threats. There are two things you can do to combat these threats:
- Shun all technology (phones, computers, television, digital can openers, etc.), live completely independently and off-the-grid (solar, wind, sheep-treadmill-powered generators), and hide your money in a mattress. Or…
- Be as well-informed as possible about what to do.
Here are a few simple things you can do to keep yourself safer when living in an online world.
- Don’t panic! Mistakes happen when people panic. If you get an email or a popup that seems fishy, the best thing to do is take a step back, access your situation, and don’t freak out. Freaking out rarely solves anything…
- Avoid the unknown. If you don’t know who the email is from, avoid clicking links or downloading attachments until you can verify the person’s identity.
- For businesses, go to their website to directly access information instead of using links in emails whenever possible. (For example, if you get something from your bank stating “click here to check on your account”, do NOT click the link…instead go to the bank site directly, login, and deal with whatever you need to. ) Hackers can make “fake” sites look very legitimate.
- For individuals, rule of thumb is to “not trust strangers”….figure out who they are and what they are about first, then act accordingly.
- Don’t pass it along. If you get a suspicious email, don’t forward it to friends. Doing so can increase the chances someone else will accidentally click on the bad link. (Not a good way to keep friends…) If you can take a screenshot of the email, pass that along instead, or you can describe the email (who it is from, the contents, etc.) without forwarding it.
- The only constant is change. Change important passwords (work and home) frequently. It may be a huge pain in the derrière, but it is better than getting hacked. Also use “strong” passwords: at least eight characters, combinations of uppercase and lowercase, numbers, special characters, etc.
- Really, don’t panic…. This is worth repeating. Hackers are like animals or small children…they can smell fear. (If someone tried to hack my bank account, they would probably just laugh when they found out there was nothing in it to begin with, but still…)
- When in doubt, check it out. If you think you have a bug, run a virus check. If you think you’ve been compromised, change your passwords. If you think you have an issue, check with your friendly neighborhood techie for another opinion.
For more tech tips from Jeff, check out his YouTube channel.