DON’T leave your home network unprotected.
Be sure to change the password on your router as soon as you install it. The router is the gateway to your home and touches all of your connected devices, from phones to smart home gadgets. Also, don’t forget to configure security and privacy settings on your devices, and invest in reputable antivirus software for your computers. Download software updates on all the programs you use — automatically, if that’s an option. Software companies often discover vulnerabilities before cyber criminals do and rush to fix them. The longer you wait to update your software (or operating system), the greater the chance you’ll be targeted.
DON’T drop your guard on public Wi-Fi.
We’re so used to using our devices everywhere (or so concerned about hitting the data cap from our cell phone provider) that most of us don’t think twice about logging on to the free public Wi-Fi system at the airport, coffee shop or dentist’s office. Some Wi-Fi connections can’t be trusted; cyber criminals can infiltrate these systems and collect data that’s sent through them. That’s why it’s always best to take the precaution of connecting to sites through secure connections or via a VPN connection.
DON’T use easily guessed passwords.
Despite repeated advice from all corners, some people still use the most basic of passwords for their email, shopping and financial accounts. Or worse, they use the same password for all of their online accounts, making those accounts especially vulnerable to cyber criminals. Variety and randomness are your best bets, so if one password is discovered, then your other accounts won’t be at risk. Even better, consider using a password manager, which assigns a random password to accounts. That way you only have to remember a single master password — for the manager itself. (You can find password managers in your app store.) For tips on creating your own strong passwords, read “Be cyber-secure: Hone your password-writing skills with this quiz.”