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Protect yourself Online
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 Protect yourself Online

  • Use antivirus software for your computers and iPhones, etc.

  • Don’t use the same password for everything.

  • Use stronger internet passwords of at least 12 characters; combining upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

  • Don’t stay permanently logged in.

  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

  • Pay attention to warnings.

  • Don’t open e-mails from strangers or anyone claiming to be a representative of the Government.

  • Treat public WiFi as if insecure.

  • Secure your wireless network at home. Enable encryption on your wireless router, otherwise anyone can access your network. The router usually comes with the encryption feature turned off. Change the name of the router from manufacturer’s default. Change router’s preset password—use 10 digits as keeping the preset is the same as no security.

  • Allow only specific computers to access your wireless network.

  • Turn off wireless network when you know you won’t use it—this limits access and thus protects.

  • Only send personal information through encrypted sites. You know a site is encrypted if it begins with HTTPS. Take note, sometimes only the landing page is encrypted and others are not. Look for HTTPS on all pages.

  • Encrypted sites protect only information on that site. Whereas a secure wireless network protects all information sent via that network.

  • Malware are malicious software such as viruses and spyware that can crash your computer and steal your information. If you suspect the presence of Malware on your computer, discontinue any online financial transactions and avoid accessing your financial accounts online.

 

NOTE: Suspect malware if your computer: closes down, crashes, repeats an error message, sends e-mail you didn’t write, unexpected icons or tool box appear, you are taken to unexpected sites, etc.

To protect against Malware:

  • Keep your security software updated

  • Don’t click on links

  • Download and install software only from websites you know and trust—free software may be Malware

  • Keep your browser’s security set at medium at minimum

  • Use a pop up blocker and don’t click on pop ups

  • Don’t click on "exit” or "thanks”—click "X” otherwise you may automatically download Malware.

  • Don’t buy software from ads that scare you into thinking they have detected Malware.

  • Back up data regularly.

 Person to Person File Sharing can be risky. To protect yourself:

  • Install reputable security software.

  • Limit what you share and how often.

  • Know what you are sharing—otherwise you may unknowingly share everything!

  • Don’t put private information into "share” or "download” folders

  • Close your connection. "X’ does not close access to the network—must go to "File” and "Exit”

  • Create separate user accounts if there are multiple users. Set up one person as the administrator to limit what is added.

  • Talk to your family about file sharing—help them understand the risks. The Netcetera campaign provides free resources to help you have this discussion with your children.

NOTE: Some P2P file share programs open automatically.

 

 Smart phones and apps

  • Password protect your smartphone… use a PIN other than 1234, 0000, 2580, 1111 or 5555 (the most easily hacked). Set it on auto-lock and install a location-tracking app.

  • Because they can collect data, apps can compromise your privacy—most "free” apps make money through advertising or selling you an upgrade. That no address or e-mail exists for a developer is a red flag.

  • Security apps are coming the market to protect data on your smartphone.


For more information on protecting yourself online, visit OnGuardOnline.gov.

 

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