Simple steps towards making your technology secure

If you surf the web, let’s make sure you’re surfing safely. 

Quick Notes

  • Up to 83% of people use the same password for multiple websites

  • The infamous WannaCry cyberattack was so effective because people neglect to get computer updates

  • Cell phones are targeted by cybercriminals

Technology is a part of our lives. Cashing a check can now consist of taking a picture rather than making a trip to the bank, and there are millions of students who earn degrees without ever stepping over the threshold of their university. Life as we know it has, in many ways, become digital.

Technology is not just something for young people anymore. Middle-aged and elderly people are very comfortable using computers, smartphones, and tablets. Some of the leaders in the technology industry are higher in age. As a society, we have become more comfortable using technology. Rather than being seen as invasive, technology is seen as something that can make life easier.

As people have become more comfortable with technology, they have also become laxer. Hackers are having a field day accessing sensitive banking, health, and personal information that is stored on computers and smartphones. How can you protect yourself?

Keep computers safe

Up to 83% of Americans are using one password everywhere. This means that if a hacker can hack into one of your online accounts, the same person can get into your more sensitive accounts. Websites that store less-sensitive information have less-stringent data safety standards, so it is best to use a different password for each website.

Instead of trying to remember dozens of passwords, there is password management software that can be purchased. Some computers come with a free trial or even a free subscription to password management software. These programs store all of a person’s passwords in one secure place, and they can even help you come up with strong passwords.

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Computer companies regularly patch software updates to users. The updates can take a long time to download, and some people complain that their computers work slower after downloading updates. While there could be some truth to that, many updates are made because of security problems that have been identified.

Computer updates from Microsoft, Apple, or another company that may have designed your computer’s operating system stop hackers from being able to take advantage of software vulnerabilities. People who do not get updates are easy prey for hackers; hackers are already well aware of a security vulnerability by the time the “good guys” like Microsoft and Apple learn of it.

Keep cell phones safe

Cell phones are used for banking, paying bills, and other forms of sensitive information, and we use the same devices for social media, playing games, and surfing the Internet. Cell phones are very easy to hack because many people do not take any measures to protect their phones. Additionally, people are more indiscriminate about downloading apps on cell phones than they are about computer downloads.

Great care should be taken to make sure your cell phone is secure. Many people are familiar with installing virus protection software on computers, and cell phones need the same software. Many companies, like Norton and McAfee, offer virus protection software for cell phones and tablets.

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Hackers also love cell phones because they contain a treasure trove of sensitive data. A person with access to a cell phone has access to everyone a person knows, pictures of their closest companions, the person’s exact location, and banking and business information. There are steps that can be taken to protect oneself.

Go into the settings on your phone, and disable the “unknown sources” setting. This setting allows apps to be downloaded from sources other than your preferred, verified app store. Hackers often force a download of a fake or even hidden app from an unknown source to get control of a phone.

Promptly download any system or security updates that are available for your phone. This protects you from vulnerabilities that have already been identified. Be careful about the apps you download: if it has poor reviews, slows down your phone, or doesn’t seem to work right, it could be a virus.

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