Passwords stand as your initial guardians against cyberattacks, so choose them well and store them safely. But what constitutes a strong password? The security experts at the Federal Trade Commission suggest choosing passwords that
For passphrases, choose long, nonsensical phrases or sentences about life events that have meaning only to you.
For added safety, use an online password generator like Identity Safe or Strong Password Generator. Password management systems, like LastPass or 1Password, take it a step further, both generating and securely storing passwords for you.
Speaking of storing passwords, don't help out thieves by writing your passwords down. If you absolutely must keep a written record of your passwords, keep them locked up in a drawer or safe that's physically removed from points of access.
Finally, don't use the same password across multiple accounts or share your passwords with others. Learn more about password safety and privacy.
Strong passwords are an essential first line of defense, but they're not enough. Many sites, such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, offer two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is also known as two-step verification. Adding authentication to your login process offers an extra layer of protection.
How does two-factor authentication work? There's more than one way, but this one is the most common: When logging in to your account, you'll receive a text or email message after entering your password. This message contains a single-use code that you must enter in order to successfully log in. Often, the code is only required when you log in from a new device.
It's easy to forget to run regular backups of your data, but this simple step can save you headaches! Backing up your data ensures that if your data is lost, a duplicate copy exists. Best practices dictate saving data on a separate device, such as an external hard drive.
For even more protection, back up your data in the cloud, as well. Just ensure that you're utilizing sound security practices when using the cloud.
Malware, short for "malicious software," is designed to infiltrate your computer, often without you knowing it. Malware encompasses a range of cybersecurity threats, such as ransomware, trojan horses, viruses, worms, and spyware. This insidious software can enter your computer from many sources, including websites, emails, downloads, photos, videos, shareware, and more.
Often, malware creators employ sneaky techniques to infect your devices, such as embedding a virus in an email that appears to be from someone in your contact list. Fight malware by
Although no one looks forward to putting their devices temporarily out of commission to perform updates, it's a necessary evil. Operating system updates often contain "security patches" that offer protection against known threats, such as malware. If you're not performing updates, your device is at risk. Simply set your devices to update automatically, so you don't miss any critical patches.
You probably already have password protection on your Wi-Fi network. (If you don't, set that up ASAP.) Take the following actions to add even more security to your Wi-Fi:
Think those deleted files are truly deleted? Not necessarily. Data may still be saved on disk, even if you've trashed it. Get rid of deleted files for good — and prevent hackers from recovering them — by overwriting deleted files. This is especially important if you're disposing of or selling a used device.
When you visit a website, you generate browsing data. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) collect and analyze this data, which can then be used in targeted advertising. Avoid this potential privacy risk by visiting websites with the URL prefix "HTTPS."
That extra "s" means website traffic is encrypted, so ISPs can't track your online movements. What if a site isn't HTTPS? You can use a browser extension like HTTPS Everywhere to browse more securely.
One of the easiest ways to protect your data is also often overlooked: Turn off your computer or laptop when not in use. Most devices are still connected to the Internet, even when not actively in use. By powering off, you'll eliminate hackers' access.
Cybersecurity takes vigilance. By following these nine tips, you'll better protect and lock down your data and keep your computer safe.
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