Gee, it used to be just your desk computer that needed protection from cyber thugs. Now, your connected thermostat, egg tray monitor, teen’s smartphone, garage door opener, even baby monitor, are all game for cyber creeps.
Can’t be said enough: Install antivirus software. This software really does make a huge difference. Malware scanners are not enough, by the way. You need both: antivirus, anti-malware, though malware usually targets laptops and PCs. But don’t bet on it staying this way; Macs, mobiles and tablets are vulnerable. Don’t wait to get security applications for your smartphone and tablet. Android is particularly vulnerable.
Enrich your Wi-Fi. Turn on your WPA or WPA2 encryption. Change your router’s default password to something really unique. Update the router’s firmware. Register any new routers online. Contact the router manufacturer’s site for helpful information on making things more secure. Whenever using free public WiFi recognize your data can be sniffed out. Use Hotspot Shield whenever logging in at airports, hotels, internet cafés and more.
Don’t use outdated software. Are you still on Windows XP? Time to switch to 7 or 8. Security holes in outdated applications will not get plugged if there’s no longer support.
Power passwords. You wear a power suit; you take a power lunch, a power nap and a power walk, but do you have a power password? A power password is extremely difficult to crack. It’s at least 12 characters long, contains no dictionary words or keyboard sequences, and has a variety of symbols. You can also use a password manager to create and encrypt passwords.
OS updates: often. Many people fail to keep their operating systems updated. Big mistake. An update means that a security hole, through which a hacker could get in, has been patched. Lots of holes mean lots of entry points for hackers. If Windows alerts you to an available update, then run it. Learn about your system’s update dynamics and get going on this.
Patch up your software. Have you been getting update alerts for Adobe Reader? Take this seriously, because this software is highly vulnerable to hacking if it has unpatched holes. Any reminder to update software must be taken seriously. Don’t wait for an attack.
Wipe old hardware. Got any defunct laptops, tablets, flash drives, hard drives, etc.? Before reselling them, strip them of your data. If you want to discard them, literally hammer them to pieces.
Two-factor authentication. A long, strong password is not 100 percent uncrackable. If a hacker cracks it, but then finds he must apply a second factor to get into your account…and that second factor requires your smartphone to receive a one-time code, he’ll move on.
Don’t get duped. Never click links in e-mails. Don’t click on something that seems too good to be true (a link to naked photos of your favorite movie star). Avoid suspicious looking websites.
Stop blabbing on social media. Information you post on Facebook, for instance, could contain clues to your passwords or security questions for your bank account. Sure, post a picture of your new puppy, but leave the name a mystery if it’s the answer to a security question.
Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.