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Five Ways to Clean up Your Digital Security

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Just as you should continually update and improve the security of your home, you need to do the same thing when it comes to the security of your electronic devices.

For example, if you have old or cheap door locks, you might want to invest in the latest model from Schlage or Medeco. And when it comes to your computer or smartphone, you may want to remove old programs and install the latest updates.

The fact is it’s estimated that 30,000 websites are infected each day with some kind of malware virus — and there’s a distinct possibility you’ve visited at least one of them.

Today, I want to give you a few quick tips so if your computer is infected with a virus, you don’t end up among the 73% of Americans who have been the victim of some type of cybercrime.

  1. Uninstall programs you don’t use — If you have software on your computer that you don’t use anymore, consider removing it to reduce the risk of viruses. Often, hackers will infect older software programs that lack the latest security updates. This should reduce the chance of an old program infecting your computer — and your computer will run faster.
  2. Update passwords — You should update your passwords on a regular basis — although I guarantee this is something most people forget to do. Criminals target passwords that can be easily guessed, so make sure you have recently changed your passwords and they aren’t all the same. Each unique password should include letters, numbers and at least one special character.
  3. Update your software — Make it a habit to check regularly for the latest software updates on your computer. It’s not uncommon for hackers to find a software loophole that causes the software company immediately to release a fix to prevent a security breach. The problem is this won’t do you any good if you haven’t completed the update, so check often and be sure to update all your programs.
  4. Use a VPN — A virtual private network (VPN) is critical if you are using public Wi-Fi to access the internet. This is one of the many ways hackers will try to steal your personal information and gain access to your online accounts. I personally use TunnelBear as my VPN. Even when I’m not on public Wi-Fi, I still use it just to be safe.
  5. Remember your smartphones and tablets — These days, phones and tablets do many of the same things as computers, which means they are just as vulnerable to being hacked. That being said, remember to take all of the same security steps with your phone or tablet as you do with your computer. This includes downloading the latest updates and removing old apps you no longer use.

The bottom line is criminals who are trying to hack into large companies or social media websites are constantly threatening your digital security, which is why these tips are critical to remember. You should continually be on the lookout for unauthorized access to your online accounts.

While social media are great tools to connect with others, they’re regularly targeted by criminals, so be mindful of the privacy settings on your social media accounts. You can learn a lot about a person from their social media presence, and hackers will often use this information to access things such as bank accounts.

Taking the time to perform these simple checks will help you protect your information and avoid becoming a victim of the latest cyberattack. Unfortunately, instances of cybercrime will only increase as our lives become more and more entwined with technology.

All the more reason to play it smart.

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2 Comments

  • Randy says:

    I’m a stroke victim. Your steps include changing passwords “frequently”. Without writing them down or storing them in an email (which is password protected) how is one suppose to keep track securely of all of those and keep coming up with new passwords?

    • Jason Crawford says:

      Hey Randy,

      I don’t necessarily think it’s horrible to write passwords down. Most cyber attacks are done by people who never step foot inside your home, so writing them down wouldn’t be an issue. What you do want to make sure of is that you don’t have them lying around for people who do come in your home to see. If you need to write them down, just try not to make it obvious what they are. Come up with unique identifiers for the sites you use most often. For example, if you’re banking password is really important (which if you use online banking it is), consider using another name for your bank when writing down your password. You might want to write something like:

      Mickey Mouse Club:
      Username: BillyBob
      Password: J\-n+%5gS&V?T5JZ

      Any intruders might find it really weird that you’re part of the Mickey Mouse Club, but they probably won’t assume that you’re really hiding your banking information.

      There are additional measures that you can take. 2-factor identification is another great solution, but requires some technical skills and may be impossible for some websites. Using ciphers is another great way to keep your information safe. This is something I have been meaning to do an article on. I’ll try to remember to update this comment when I get that post published.

      I’ll send this question off to Jason Hanson to see if he has any additional input on the matter.

      I hope this helps!

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