Would you ever pack your social security number, bank account information, family photos and credit cards into a box and leave it on the back seat of your unlocked car? Would you let someone borrow these for a while?
What about your laptop, your phone, or you iPad? Security of your portable devices is not just about protecting your investment in hardware. From bank statements to personal email exchanges, you are likely to have information on your device that connects to the Internet that is valuable and confidential. Indeed, with the right information, a person could pretend to be you, affect your credit history, scam your friends or take your money.
Following are some important steps you can take to protect your Internet devices and personal information.
- Keep security software current. Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats. Don't forget to install a mobile security suite on your smart phone.
- Automate software updates. Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against new risks. Turn on automatic updates if it's an available option.
- Protect all devices that connect to the Internet. Smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices need protection from viruses and malware, too.
- Lock your device when you aren't using it. Even if you only step away for a few minutes, that's enough time for someone to steal or destroy your information. Set up passcodes or PINs for your mobile devices. Set up your smart phone to lock automatically to the login screen after a few idle minutes.
- Disconnect your device from the Internet when you aren't using it. The likelihood of being targeted by attackers or viruses scanning the network becomes much higher if your device is always connected and available.
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots. Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine. Connect to Wi-Fi hotspots manually, not automatically.
- When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your Internet device. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete, and if appropriate, mark as junk email.
- Know what you're putting on your device. Sometimes we download software and apps without thinking about whether they came from a reputable source. Malware is a worldwide problem and can be hidden in software and apps that you download. By allowing malware onto your device, you're potentially inviting people you don't know to access your information.
- Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online. Check trusted websites for the latest information. Share tips with friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.