If you’re doing some last-minute online shopping this month, don’t forget to take steps to protect your personal data. The Holidays may feel like a time where everything is cloaked in joy and wonder – especially in a year like we’ve had in 2020; it’s definitely needed! But unfortunately, the holidays also come with an increased risk of having your data stolen. Hackers understand that the holiday season comes with increased online activity, so subsequently they pay more attention and look for weak links they can exploit.
We’ve put together a few tips to follow – now, and any other time of the year – to keep your data secure online.
Tip #1 to Protect Yourself Online: Check Your Passwords
It’s always a good idea to update your passwords on a regular basis – every 3 to 6 months is recommended. But even more important is to use strong passwords that make it difficult for a computer to guess. Contrary to popular belief, sophisticated hackers aren’t sitting at a computer typing in potential passwords manually. They’re running complex systems that run through number and letter combinations continuously until something clicks. The best passwords are two or more words together, plus numbers and symbols.
If you have trouble remembering your passwords, a password management app (like LastPass) can help you keep track of them.
Tip #2 to Protect Yourself Online: Use Two-Factor Authentication
In addition to having strong passwords, you can protect your accounts and information further using two-factor authentication. This allows you to verify your identity further after logging in to your accounts by answering a security question or receiving a code by text or email. This helps prevent access to your accounts even if they have discovered your log-in information.
Tip #3 to Protect Yourself Online: Don’t Open Mail from Unknown Senders
Phishing attempts are becoming more and more sophisticated, and it’s harder to tell them apart from real emails. Especially during the holidays when our inboxes are being filled with deals from companies we only hear from once a year, it’s easy to miss phishing attempts and malware. The best way to avoid accidentally downloading viruses is to simply avoid opening emails from unknown senders. Delete them right away.
Tip #4 to Protect Yourself Online: Avoid Using Unsecured Wi-Fi
Whether you’re working from a cafe or your home Wi-Fi is unsecured, accessing these networks from your devices can make you and your data more vulnerable. If you have to use unsecured Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi that’s accessed without requiring a password) be sure not to enter any personal information, like your credit card information or Social Insurance Number.
If you have more questions about keeping your data safe this holiday season (or any time of the year), send us a message and we can help do an analysis of your current set-up and online habits.