Your computer may become infected without your knowledge. Consider the following scenario:
1. You open your web browser and start browsing
2. You visit a site and unknowingly fall into a spyware trap, such as:
- A pop-up you click on (even to close it), a deceptive link that you follow, or a clickable image that leads down a dangerous path
- Sometimes simply opening a web page or an HTML email starts the installation
3. Spyware loads onto your PC without your knowledge
4. Your computer is infected and your personal information is at risk
Keep reading for tips to stay safer online and protect your information.
Keep a clean machine
- Use TrendMicro and Malwarebytes to scan any files, USB devices, emails, or links that appear suspicious.
- Regularly delete emails and files that you do not need (especially ones containing sensitive data).
- Only download from sites you trust.
- Keep your machine and software up to date.
Protect your accounts
Use strong passwords and keep them private. A good password will be long, and does not necessarily need to be an overly-complex random string of letters, numbers, and symbols. A sentence can be personal to you, easier to remember, and hard to crack.
Time to crack: 9 hours
Time to crack: 118 billion years
For each unique account, it is best to have a unique password. At the minimum, you should separate your work and personal account passwords. The most critical accounts, such as online banking, should have the most secure password. Keep your passwords safe: memorize them or use a password manager
Connect with care
Links in emails, posts, and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your information. If something looks suspicious, ignore it. When in doubt, throw it out!
When banking, shopping, or entering your personal information online, look for web addresses with https:// or shttp://, which means the site has taken extra precautions to secure your information. Note the ‘s’ that stands for secure. Use secure payment methods like Paypal or trusted e-commerce sites. Be wary of paying with non-refundable and non-trackable methods like wire transfters and cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.
Be web wise
Stay current with recent scams and new ways to stay safe online. Share these ways with friends, family, and colleagues. Be wary of communications that are threatening you to take action or give personal information or offers that sound too good to be true.
Back up your data regularly to protect your valuable work.
Own your online presence
Personal information can be thought of as money. It has real value, just like currency. Be thoughtful about who you are giving your information to, what sites you give information to, and how that information is used. Does the app you just signed up for sell your data to advertisers? Is your application from a well-known, trusted brand (like Microsoft), or is it an obscure app with very little downloads? Does a website really need your address, phone number, or full name?
Share with care.