These days, just about everything exists online. While cyberspace can be exciting and convenient, it certainly comes with a few threats. Thousands of people fall victim to online scams every day, where their personal information, bank accounts, and social security numbers are compromised.
As Bennett College’s Chief Information Security Officer, Brian Cornell states, “Colleges and other institutions may strive to safeguard their member’s data, but the threats by malicious actors are on the rise and the tactics are becoming very sophisticated and creative. End users and individuals are the front-line defenders for any information security program. Targeted attacks, such as phishing messages and social engineering scams, remain the top threat to end users, and having the knowledge to recognize these types of attacks will significantly reduce the risks of a data breach or unauthorized access to data.”
Data Privacy Day is an internationally recognized effort that takes place annually on January 28 to create awareness about the importance of safeguarding data.
Here are 7 data privacy tips for keeping you safe online:
- Choose Strong PasswordsEnsure that you create strong passwords — no birthdays or number sequences! If you want to use something less obvious, try song lyrics. Be sure to switch up your letter cases, add symbols & numbers, and don’t recycle your passwords.
- Avoid Using Public WiFi Using public WiFi makes you more susceptible to getting hacked and having your personal data stolen. Try using a portable WiFi router or only joining secure networks.
- Always Lock Your Devices When Not in UseAn unlocked device, even just for a few minutes, makes it easy for someone to access your private data. Get into the habit of locking your device.
- Only Access “HTTPS” SitesThe “S” in “HTTPS” stands for “secure,” meaning your data is encrypted and not shared with unsafe sources.
- Install Anti-Virus SoftwareAnti-virus software protects your device from viruses, malware, and warns you of suspicious links, websites, and data compromisation. Ensure that you update your software regularly so it is equipped to protect you from new threats.
- Avoid Oversharing On Social MediaAs fun as using social media is, ensure you never compromise your live location, personal information, or share too much of your daily routine, which could make you easy to track.
- Beware Of Phishing And SmishingPhishing is an attack by hackers who tempt individuals into clicking a link or opening a file contained within an email, in an attempt to steal your information. The email may seem to come from someone we know or some other trusted source.
Smishing is very similar to phishing, but it comes to us through a text message on our cell phones versus email.
Ways To Identify Phishing/ Smishing:
- The email/ message comes with a high urgency or needs immediate action
- The email/ message does not have any relevance to you
- There are misspelled words, bad grammar, and typos
- The email/ message contains suspicious attachments/ links
- The email message doesn’t seem to make any sense/ seems out of character for the ‘sender’
Cornell states that “It takes a multitude of tools and resources to ensure data is protected. We should take the initiative and proactively increase our knowledge and awareness of the many cyber threats that are facing us daily.”
Stay safe in the cyber world!