There are more than four billion people on the internet today, and many of them use social media to communicate. But while social media can be fun and a great way to chat with friends, it can be risky as well. When people share personal information about themselves, they may become targets for scammers and identity thieves.
However, you can take a few simple precautions to keep yourself and your friends and family safe on social media. Here’s how.
First, always use the strongest privacy settings you can. Check the Settings section of your social media profile and make sure what you’re posting can only be seen by your friends.
Second, think about what you post before you post it. It’s easy for people to misunderstand a joke or a fun meme, especially with billions of people out there who might see it. It’s easy to avoid this, though. Think of your social media as your outfit: there are some things you wouldn’t wear in public because people would laugh or think it wasn’t a good choice.
Finally, check out our infographic on social media safety to arm yourself with more
Your privacy means a lot: not just to you, but to the people you care about. If your private accounts and information are breached, other people could be breached too. That’s why it’s important to maintain your privacy online by making good choices with your privacy settings.
There are several smart and simple things you can do to ensure that your privacy settings are as good as they can be. Keep your online friends lists and contacts lists restricted to people you know in real life — people you know really exist and aren’t going to try tricking you. Make sure that when you’re sharing something on Facebook, the posting is set to Private, not Public.
Privacy settings don’t apply just to sites, either. Something as simple as using a lock screen on your phone will make it harder for others to get into it, protecting you and anyone else you may have contacted through that phone. You can enable a lock screen in your phone’s Settings menu.
With common sense and strong privacy settings, you can protect not just yourself, but your friends and family.
For more information on privacy settings, check out our infographic.
Apps are part of our lives now. Remember that slogan, “There’s an App for That”? Nowadays, it seems like there really is an app for everything — from games to shopping, fitness, beauty, hobbies and more. No wonder that almost 50% of all smartphone users download at least one new app a month.
Just like with any device or program, though, it’s important to choose and use your apps carefully. Some apps may be scams or contain viruses. Here’s what you can do to keep yourself safe.
First, look out for permissions. Any time you install an app, it’ll ask you to allow it permission to access functions of your device — stuff like the camera, text messaging ability and contacts list. But should a fitness app need to use your camera, or a game need to know who you call? You can click “Deny” to keep an app from getting certain permissions.
Second, get your apps from the official sources. Apple App Store and Google Play have standards for what apps they include, and something from the official store is less likely to cause problems for you.
Third, check out our infographic for more app safety advice.
Passwords! What a headache, especially when people worry about password safety. Sometimes it seems like that in order to be safe, your password must contain letters, numbers, punctuation, emojis, colors and at least one Egyptian hieroglyph.
But the truth is that it’s easier to create a long, strong, safe password than most people think. Let’s take a quick look at a few tips for making a password that will keep your account safe.
First, try using a passphrase instead of a password. Passphrases or sentences will always be longer than a single word (which is good, because government advice now suggests that passwords be anywhere from eight to 64 letters long!) and they stick in your mind better, because they have more meaning.
Second, make sure it’s something you can remember without writing down. If you do have to write down your password, make sure to protect that paper really carefully — like locking it in a desk drawer or safe.
Third, check your password strength online. Many cybersecurity companies have free password strength checkers available.
Fourth, check out our infographic on shaking up your passphrase protocol and pick up a few good tips on creating and protecting strong passwords.
“Multi-factor authentication” is a tech industry term for using different types of verification to get into an account. The idea is that you use multiple things at the same time to really prove that you’re actually you. A password is one example of a factor; a fingerprint is another.
Multi-factor authentication makes it much harder for hackers to break into people’s accounts. If they have one password but not the other one or two factors that they need, then they can’t get into that account after all.
Let’s look at a couple of tips for authentication.
First, check whether you can set it up on any of your accounts. Most accounts that you’d want to protect offer it. In a setup like this, the account will ask for something in addition to a password — usually, sending a text message to your phone.
Second, use different types of authentication. There are different types of factors: something you know, something you have and something you are. Use factors from different families for extra protection.
Third, you can use authenticator apps to easily handle two-factor authentication for multiple accounts.
Fourth, check out our infographic on multi-factor authentication for more tips.
More people are shopping online than ever before! It’s convenient to be able to order anything you like, and have it delivered to your door. Unfortunately, that also means there’s more risk. Scammers and criminals may try to steal people’s information and money when they shop online.
The good news is that there are several simple ways you can act to protect yourself and shop safe online. Let’s take a quick look at some tips.
First, never do your shopping on public Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi can have weak security and sending sensitive information like an address and credit card number over a public connection could expose that information to other people.
Second, check out the reviews for the site and retailer before you commit to buying anything. You can easily check for scam reports by searching online at the Better Business Bureau.
Third, use bookmarks rather than links to reach sites. Links can be spoofed, but when you keep a bookmark to your favorite shopping site, you won’t be redirected by a scammer. With some common sense and care, you can shop safe online and get more bang for your buck.
Check out our online shopping safety infographic for more great tips.
“Phishing” is a tech industry term for a kind of cybercrime where people try to fool other people into sending them money or revealing personal information online. The name comes from the idea of fishing: scammers send a message that acts as bait, hoping to “hook” someone.
The good news is that you have the power to throw these phish back! Let’s take a minute to talk about what you can do to avoid phishing.
First, just be cautious. Remember the old warning about not talking to strangers? It goes double on the internet, since anyone can pretend to be anyone else and an email from an exciting new friend could actually be a trick. Ask your potential phisher to provide proof or explain their amazing offer in detail, and you’ll trip up an attacker really fast.
Second, remember not to share sensitive information through emails. Details like your passwords, credit card numbers and Social Security Number are things that no legitimate company would be asking you for in an email.
Be sure to check out our infographic for more great tips on spotting and avoiding phishing.
Software updates are sort of like vitamins: Not everyone thinks about them, but everyone needs them, and they can make a big difference in keeping a system healthy. Let’s take a quick minute to talk about updates.
Updates help keep a piece of software or a system current. Because new threats are being developed all the time, manufacturers will send out fixes and updates to help protect their users from new threats — or just from problems they didn’t find when the software was first made. If someone discovers a security problem in a program and a user doesn’t download the update to fix the problem, they’re basically leaving a door open.
You take a big step in protecting your system when you’re smart about updates. Here are some tips.
First, always update the big three. That’s your security software, your web browser and your operating system. Those three are absolutely critical for keeping you and your information safe!
Second, you can enable auto-update. Check your programs’ Settings; the option is usually in there to automatically download new updates whenever one’s available.
For more info about keeping on top of your updates, check out our infographic.
Wi-Fi is great. How cool is it to be able to access the internet from anywhere — pretty much carrying an entire library and a direct line to anywhere in the world with you when you go out for a burger? In the United States, many businesses now offer Wi-Fi for their customers, so you can stay connected wherever you go.
That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, though. Using public Wi-Fi is sort of like doing, well, anything else in public: you want to be safe and not accidentally wander into trouble. Let’s talk about what you can do to protect yourself on Wi-Fi.
First, when you’re on public Wi-Fi, never access anything private. Accessing sports scores? Cool. Accessing your bank account? Not so much — not when the Wi-Fi’s owner could be looking over your cyber-shoulder.
Second, if you’re using a business’s Wi-Fi, make sure to ask the owner for the exact name and password of the network. That way you can avoid mistakes and copycat networks. By playing it smart and being cautious, you can protect your information and make sure your private information stays private.
For more tips and info about Wi-Fi safety, check out our infographic.
Today, personal data is more important than ever. Lots of companies collect information while doing business, and that means when those companies get hacked, that customer info gets exposed to the world.
Your smarts, though, can make a difference and help protect those people who trust you with their data. Let’s talk about protecting customer information.
First, it’s important to know what you can and can’t collect. You can usually find that information in your handbook, or by asking HR; they should be able to point you to the right rules. It all depends on your state and federal laws. Making sure you know ahead of time will save you a lot of headaches later!
Second, be aware of possible trouble. Some data, like email addresses, seems harmless enough, but it can be exploited by a scammer. If someone approaches you and asks for customer information, you’ll be the first line of security between an innocent person and someone wanting to steal their identity. Always be suspicious when someone asks for info!
Third, check out our infographic for more great tips on customer data protection.