PALM BEACH, FL – There is no shortage of security breaches and data leaks reported in the news this past year. As we all move into 2020, here are some simple tips to help keep you stay cyber safe, so you can worry less and have more to look forward to this year.
Don’t Shorten 2020 in Dates
You shouldn’t shorten the year 2020 when signing things. Scammers can easily change the abbreviated date, for example from “3/30/20” to “3/30/2018”. Make sure to write out the full year so there is no mistake on when a document was signed.
Completely Wipe Your Old Devices
When discarding a device which contains personal information, such as an iPad or iPhone, you should completely wipe the old device clean by first backing up documents, pictures and other important data. Then, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to wipe the device clean.
Use Your Own Chargers
Avoid borrowing someone’s charging cable or using public USB charging stations. Cyber-criminals have figured out how to implant malware into charging cables and how to hack into USB charging stations in shopping malls and airports. Be sure to bring your own charging cable and power adapter.
Unsecured Public Wi-Fi Networks
Public Wi-Fi networks may be convenient to use, but hackers may be able to view your online activity while you’re browsing on these unsecured networks. This information can be used to hijack your personal accounts or steal sensitive information. A VPN creates a secure tunnel for your data when connected to public Wi-Fi.
Social Security Numbers (SSN)
Having Social Security numbers (SSN) anywhere is a potential data breach risk. Most places which ask for it are doing so to have the ability to send your account to a collection agency or the IRS. Ask why this information is needed and give it out only when absolutely necessary.
Calls Seeking Personal Information
Be weary of anyone who calls you and asks for personal information. For instance, IRS, the FTC, and the Social Security offices will never call you asking for personal information. Companies like Microsoft will not call telling you that they detected a virus on your computer. If a bank, credit card company or loan officer calls unexpectedly, do not give them your information right away. Look up the institution’s customer service number and speak to an official agent directly and ask for clarification.
Your Date of Birth (DOB)
Giving out your true date of birth (DOB) is a potential data breach risk. Only do so when it is absolutely necessary. Does a dating website or Facebook really need to have your actual date of birth? For what, to remind you or others when it is your birthday? Think about who you are sharing this data with and make sure its worth providing it.
Clicking Links In Email
Email phishing is a growing and serious problem. Hackers send emails to direct people to websites that install malware or cause other security concerns such as stealing your user name or password. Always view emails very carefully to determine exactly where they have come from and be careful when clicking on any links with an email.
Addresses of Websites Without “https://”
Try to make sure whenever you are doing any business on a website, it is a secure site, and the address of the website contains “https://” in the address bar of your browser. This, (https://) indicates the site provides a secure connection between and the server it is hosted on. Most sites which request personal information, especially credit cards will be hosted securing on https. Never enter in personal information on an insecure site.
Keep Software Up-To-Date
Keep software up-to-date when security releases, updates and patches are announced. The majority of software updates are related to security holes which are discovered. You should always update software when a software update release is announced or requests you to update the software. A good way to stay ahead of the game on your personal devices is to use something like Norton (I’ve been using it for ten years).
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®