You’ve been fortunate over the years — no lost phone, no credit card fraud, no computer viruses. Still, deep down, you fear your sloppy digital habits will eventually catch up with you. So, instead of dread and denial, how about a little peace of mind? The perfect time to take a few easy steps and make your digital life your most unhackable is now. Here are seven easy ways to tighten up your digital habits:
1. Two-factor authentication
This small action sounds like a big deal, but it’s easy and important. Two-factor authentication simply puts two layers of security on any personal information channels you frequent. Be it your phone, Facebook, email, or bank account, taking the extra time to implement a two-step password entry, will mean potential crooks will get frustrated and move on to someone else’s information.
McAfee Pro Tip: Go into the account settings of any important account and manually opt for a two-factor authentication account entry. Once set up, the next time you log in to your account, you’ll be prompted to provide the secondary authentication, such as entering a code from your authentication app or confirming a text message code
2. Steer clear of public wifi
It’s convenient and fun to work from the local coffee shop. However, it only takes one nosey, unethical person at that location to access your computer through that shared public network. Snoopers can easily access your passwords, emails, and anything else on your computer. Do your sensitive work at home or in the office on a secure, password-protected network and save your non-wifi workload, such as report reading or writing (sans wifi) for the coffee shop. Avoid doing any banking or private work on public wifi, especially.
McAfee Pro Tip: Check the URL in your browser’s address bar. If it starts with “https” (rather than just “http”), it’s secure and encrypted, ensuring your data is protected during transmission. If it’s only “http,” the site isn’t secure, so avoid proceeding. If using public Wi-Fi, activate your firewall in your security settings to block incoming traffic and enhance protection against potential threats.
3. Don’t be lazy with passwords
According to McAfee’s Digital Asset Study, the most common mistake consumers make is using the same password for all or most online accounts. If this is you, break this poor habit once and for all.
Take this step: Take an hour of your day and change and document your passwords. Once you’ve beefed up your passwords, you can simplify the password process by using True Key multi-factor authentication service for free. A strong password has all of the following characteristics:
- Is at least ten characters in length
- Doesn’t contain any word or words found in the dictionary
- Mixes capital and lower-case letters
- It Contains special characters like numbers, punctuation marks, or symbols.
→ Dig Deeper: 5 Tips For Creating Bulletproof Passwords
4. Declutter your devices
Simplify, simplify, simplify your gadget use, and your safety will improve immediately. With so many digital assets flying at us daily — email, images, files, documents, attachments — it’s easy to get overwhelmed. And, when we are overwhelmed, it’s easy to get sloppy in the places that matter most — like privacy. Focus on your safety and declutter your devices when needed.
- Phone: Purge unused apps on your phone and desktop
- Phone: Organize your apps into folders on your home screen. Here’s how to do it on your Android or iPhone.
- Laptop, iPad, tablet: Organize your desktop files into folders and organize your folders by years, i.e., 2014, 2015, 2016. If you have old files, either purge them or archive them in a folder or hard drive that doesn’t visually clutter your desktop.
- Laptop: Clean up your email. This is a very good time to purge old emails, build folders, review and file flagged files, and delete old emails with big attachments that may be using memory on your computer. Need to purge all the spam in your inbox? Unroll.me is a free, fast, easy way to do just that.
- Laptop: Delete unused email accounts, paid subscriptions, and files you no longer use.
5. Target your software
While you sleep, work, or play, hackers tirelessly attempt to infiltrate your computer with malicious software, spyware, and viruses. The lack of anti-virus software on your device is an open invitation to these cyber criminals. Therefore, consider investing in robust antivirus software this year. In addition to this, consider installing filtering software to enhance your social media safety, making it a safer platform for your entire family.
6. Reconsider your sharing habits
Want to take your privacy a notch higher? Consider cutting back on your social sharing. Hackers often create fake social media accounts and use them to monitor your personal data. A determined identity thief on Facebook can gather enough information about you to bypass the security questions on your accounts, potentially gaining access to your financial data. It’s time to rethink your approach to social media. Consider pruning your social circle on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to include only those you know and trust. The lure of high follower numbers is not worth the risk of a potential security breach. Remind your family never to post personal details like your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, and account numbers on public websites.
To minimize potential damage from oversharing, exercise caution when accepting friend requests or follows from people you don’t know. Also, remember to check your privacy settings. Many platforms allow you to control who sees your posts, profile information, and tagged photos. These features will give you greater control over your online presence.
→ Dig Deeper: Protecting Your Privacy on Social Media
7. Stay updated
Updating software can seem like a chore, especially during a busy workday. However, it’s vital to ensure your digital life remains secure. Cybercriminals always look for outdated software and browsers, preying on the security gaps they exploit. If you frequently use software such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Shockwave, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Java, or browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer, ensure you’re always running the latest version. By consciously keeping your software updated, you’re erecting yet another line of defense against potential cyber threats.
Furthermore, remember to back up your files regularly. In case of a cyber-attack, a recent backup can save you a lot of trouble and ensure you don’t lose any crucial data.
→ Dig Deeper: Why Software Updates Are So Important
As cybercrimes become increasingly rampant, consider it an ideal opportunity to tighten your digital habits. Investing a little time and effort into securing your digital life can ensure a safer, more protected online experience. Following these simple steps; implementing two-factor authentication, avoiding public wifi, strengthening passwords, decluttering devices, targeting software, reconsidering sharing habits, and staying updated can profoundly impact your digital security. Here’s to a secure and serene digital life with McAfee!
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