As essential as internet security is every single day of the year, June is Internet Security Month, which makes it the perfect time to review what it means to keep your computers, tablets and smartphones as secure as possible.
As you relax into summer, make sure that you are not relaxing your policies of vigilance when it comes to online safety for you and your family.
There are several different types of circumstances that warrant your attention. You want to make sure you are protecting all of your devices that regularly access the internet, protecting your online accounts, your identity and, most importantly, your children.
1. Be wary of emails from unknown senders that promise…well, anything.
Likewise, watch out for suspicious content from addresses that are known to you but might have been compromised. The odds that your sister, who you just spoke to last week and said nothing about upcoming travel plans, is now stranded in Marrakesh or Istanbul, are slim.
2. Before going on summertime adventures, protect yourself so that you can use public WiFi safely.
Public WiFi at airports, coffee shops, and tourist attractions is a great convenience, but it can also pose serious risks to your online privacy and safety. Install an app (such as ZoneAlarm Capsule) that encrypts your online communications to ensure that your mobile communications stay private.
3. Protect all your devices with an excellent antivirus.
If you keep your machine clean of all malware, and if you regularly update your operating system, browsers, and apps, then you should be effective at keeping potential intruders at bay. It’s important to maintain these standards even during summer vacation.
4. Make sure your passwords are strong, long, and unique.
The easiest way for someone to hack into your online accounts is to access them directly by signing in with your passwords. Longer character counts work in your favor, as the longer your password is, the harder it will be to guess, even when using a random password generator.
5. Add password protection to all of your devices, and use two-factor authentication when possible.
If someone gets their hands on your phone, then all they have to do is open your apps and they’ll have access to any number of accounts. Protect your devices with passwords, and use two-step authentication for individual apps to ensure that your devices and your social accounts are safe.
6. Don’t overshare…especially if you’re away on vacation. It’s always tempting to post images from vacations on social media, but consider the fact that potential criminals could be seeing your posts as well. Even if you are the kind of person who likes to overshare, avoid revealing all of your personal details online, as this can make it all too easy for someone to take advantage.
7. Don’t give out personal information just because someone asks.
This goes for lots of details, from your birthday all the way to your credit card number. Unless you are certain that you’re communicating with someone you trust, and doing so under secure circumstances, keep your private details private.
8. Think twice before posting information about your children (including images) on social media.
Keeping your family safe online may seem like a daunting task, but cyber-safety for kids can actually be more straightforward than “real life” safety. Many potential threats can be neutralized simply by using common sense. Think twice before you post information about your children online, as this could give strangers private details you’d rather they not have.
9. Educate your kids about online safety.
Talk to your kids about how to behave online, and make sure they are acting sensibly. Ensure they don’t communicate with unsavory characters or engage in chats or discussion threads with strangers. Keep an eye on what they are posting on their social media accounts, so that they don’t post anything that comprises their own safety.
Summertime is a great time to relax and break your usual routines in favor of spending time in the sunshine with family and friends. But before you do, take the time to wrap your head around these best practices for safe internet use and secure your computers, tablets and phones. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your sunscreen!
Do you think summer presents new online security threats?