Erik Fretheim, director of Western’s Cyber Security Program, offers a few tips for the rest of us to keep our data out of the wrong hands during Cyber Security Month—and every month: Don’t reuse passwords. Cyber criminals harvest passwords from poorly defended sites, like social media and casual accounts, then try them at banks and other valuable targets.
Use two-factor authentication, which works by texting, emailing, or phoning you with a code whenever you log in to an account. Because the cyber criminal doesn’t have access to your phone or email, they can’t get into your account even if they have your password.
Lie when answering account verification questions. Companies believe this is information only you would know—but so does everybody who reads your social media (which, by the way, is not as private as you think).
S is for Secure. Only visit sites using https (the little lock appears on the browser), not http, particularly on a public WiFi.
Don’t share your password with anyone. Any legitimate support person with a legitimate need has the means to access your account without your password.
Activate the firewall and anti-virus software on your computer. No need to buy an additional system. The firewalls and anti-virus software that come with your computer work well if you keep your operating system updated.
Hover over links in emails and messages to see where the link will take you, even from people you know. Don’t even think about clicking links from names and addresses you do not know.
Avoid QR codes. Because you can’t read the QR code yourself, you don’t know what it is really telling your device to do. Cyber criminals love QR codes because they can make their own stickers to trick your phone or computer and paste them on top of a legitimate QR code. And be especially careful about downloading apps using QR codes.