In today's digital age, it's more important than ever that you protect you and your family's sensitive data from malicious hackers. Here are four ways that you can promote cybersecurity in your home, allowing you to feel a greater sense of confidence that your personal information is safe.
Screen Your Calls
If you've been noticing that your phone has been ringing more often from numbers that you don't recognize, you're not the only one. Neighbor spoofing is a type of spam call in which the spammer will use the first three to six digits of your phone number to make it seem as if you're receiving a call from a local business, a neighbor or even a friend. This is a common method used to get you to pick up the phone and disclose personal information to cybercriminals. When you receive phone calls from an unknown number, it's best to air on the side of caution and let it go to voicemail. Even if you think you recognize the number, stick to answering calls from people in your contacts. While you may think it's okay if you answer the spam call and don't disclose any personal information, this will notify the spammer that your phone line is active, causing you to receive even more calls in the future. As an additional layer of security, you can register for the FTC's National Do Not Call Registry for free, which can decrease the number of unwanted calls you receive.
Think Before You Click
Another common way that hackers can gain access to your personal information is through phishing. Phishing attacks are very common, but 97% of people are unable to identify them. One of the simplest ways that you can avoid falling victim to a phishing attack is to think before clicking on a link you receive in an email. Be sure to remember that cybercriminals will often disguise themselves as trustworthy individuals to persuade you to divulge sensitive information, so it's important that you don't click on links from senders that you don't know. If you're unsure of the link's credibility, hover over it to see where it leads. If the link's URL is inconsistent with the email's content or you're not familiar with the website, it's best to be safe and not click on it. Keep in mind that websites that begin with "https" are more secure than those that begin with "http." Furthermore, if you're completing an online purchase and are being asked to disclose financially sensitive information, such as your bank account or credit card number, look for a padlock icon in the address bar. This demonstrates that you have an encrypted connection, which prevents hackers from gaining access to your data.
Also known as in-session phishing, pop-ups are another common type of phishing that hackers use to gain access to your information. Although a pop-up may appear as a legitimate part of a website, it's often a malicious attempt to hack your data. If you're confronted with a pop-up, be sure to click on the small "x" in the top right corner of the box as opposed to the "cancel" button. Cybercriminals take advantage of the fact that many people will click on the "cancel" button and therefore program it to direct you to a phishing website. To safeguard yourself further from malicious pop-ups, check if your browser comes with an extension that blocks pop-ups. Many of the most popular browsers, such as Firefox, Chrome and Safari, are equipped with this handy extension.
Choose Strong Passwords
You've probably heard it before, but choosing a strong password is essential if you want to protect yourself from cybercriminals. You may have noticed that some websites have become more stringent over the years when it comes to creating a new password, requiring you to include a special character and at least one number and uppercase letter. This is because these types of passwords are the most secure and hardest for hackers to guess. When choosing a password, be sure to stay away from common words, phrases or personal information such as a family member's name or your phone number's area code. It's also important that you use a different password for each website. While this may be tedious, it can prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to all of your accounts as opposed to just one. To add an extra layer of protection, consider using multi-factor authentication. This protective measure requires you to provide more than one form of identification in order to gain access to your account, which makes it more difficult for hackers to access your personal information.
Cybersecurity is something that you should take seriously, especially when it comes to protecting your family's sensitive information. Following these four tips can help you protect yourself from malicious online attacks and help you live a more secure life.