Friday, November 20, 2020

Protecting Your Online Data

Protecting Your Online Data

Identity theft is big business for criminals with more and more phishing scams popping up; they are not only becoming an increasingly popular tactic to gain money and information illegally, but they are becoming more and more sophisticated. Although online shopping is so convenient, putting your information into even a secure system can open you up to having yourself scammed, hacked, or identity stolen. 

We all think it won't happen to us, but honestly, it can happen to anyone, all it takes is for a momentary lapse in concentration, and you have given the scammers all they need. We've had our credit card information stolen about 3 times and just recently had a phishing scam from information stolen from the our hospital's system! It's frustrating, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! 

So how can you protect yourself when out and about and make sure your information is safe at all times?

Use a VPN 

Public wifi is a hotbed for scammers. Everyone can access any data you send when out and about and know exactly what you are doing. Anything from your banking details, to passwords and even what tv shows you are streaming on your morning commute. Visit to find out how using a VPN can help you to keep your online activities secure from prying eyes.

Don't Click Links

As easy as this is, clicking links in emails is still one of the most common ways for scammers and criminals to access your details. Always check the source of any emails before you open them and make sure the email matches the official one from the company. In most cases, simply checking the email address will be a giveaway that this is indeed a scam email. If you are at all unsure, do not click on any attachments and close the email. Then you need to contact the supposed company, e.g. your bank via a verified phone number or in person.

Protecting Your Online Data

Image Credit: Pexels CC0 License

Hang Up Phone Calls

Often, scammers will call you to tell you there is suspicious activity on your bank account and you need to follow their directions. Your bank or even the police department, if that is who they claim to be, will not contact you this way. Simply hang up and use a different phone line to contact your bank or your local police department. I can't tell you how many times I have been called to let me know there is a warrant out for my arrest! Haha!! 

Do not verify any information or give them any extra details. If this is your bank, they will understand your caution and allow you to make the necessary checks yourself. If you feel in any way pressured, hang up. Scammers like to force urgency on their callers and make them panic.

Use Security Software

Adding an extra level of protection when using the internet at home can help you to avoid falling for scam websites or having your devices infected with malware and viruses. There are many internet security packages that you can install, usually for a small fee, and they will make sure the sites you are visiting online are safe and secure and that your personal information is secure too. I run weekly checks on my laptop and it helps find any malware and removes it. 

Protecting Your Online Data

Change your Passwords

We all know how hard it is to remember your passwords, but changing them regularly can help to protect your digital data and accounts. Try to use randomized numbers and letters and avoid using anything that is easily guessable like birthdays, family names etc. I will admit, I'm so bad about this! Strengthen passwords by adding in random symbols and using a mix of letters, numbers and capital letters mixed with lowercase. If needed, there are secure apps that help you save your passwords so you can remember them when needed. 

Tis the season to be shopping and since most of us are doing the majority of our shopping online this year, make sure you follow these tips to keep your information safe and your bank account secure! 

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