Dr. Richard Johnson, professor in the department of information technology and cybersecurity, shares some principles to follow to reduce cyberattacks.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information by disguising oneself as a legitimate institution. Never click on anything in an email or text that looks suspicious. Doing so can infect your computer or phone with malware.
- Always follow good password practices. Don’t use simple passwords that are easy to guess. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Don’t write your passwords down. Change your passwords frequently.
- Use a password manager. For free or about $3 per month, a password manager program can remember all your passwords—you just need one to get into the program.
- Install security software on your computer. Suites such as Norton or McAfee will protect you from most malware, such as viruses, spyware and ransomware.
- Always keep your computer software updated. The software may tell you to install the update, so don’t “wait until later.”
- Don’t put personal information on social media. You may be tempted to put your birth date, address, family members’ names, etc., on social media, but that’s where bad guys look first.
- Don’t enter personal information (such as credit card numbers) when using Wi-Fi. Anyone in or near an airport, coffee shop, or even your home can intercept that information.
- Use a VPN (virtual private network). For just a few dollars a month, you can use this service to encrypt all of your Internet communications.
If you think you’ve been compromised in any way, it’s important to take quick action. Contact the banks or credit card companies, the Federal Trade Commission and credit reporting agencies if you suspect a problem.
“Although you can never be 100% secure,” said Johnson, “these are some very sound principles to follow to minimize your risks.”