Your 2015 Security Check List

Now that we are almost one-sixth of the way through the year, many of us have probably abandoned some the many great ideas to better ourselves. So, I encourage you to make just one more resolution that you cannot afford to put on the back burner. If you neglect your security, it could lead you down the path of a not-so-happy year.

To better protect yourself from dangerous malware and cybercriminals throughout the upcoming year, here is a list of things you can do to strengthen your overall security.

Protect your PC with a firewall and antivirus
An antivirus and firewall are the two most crucial components all PCs should be equipped with. A firewall makes sure data coming in and going out are authorized to do so. An antivirus protects your PC from malware that tries to corrupt your PC or steal personal information, such as your banking and email credentials. Yes, you need an antivirus and firewall even if you browse the Web carefully.

Keep your OS, browser, and other applications up-to-date
Updates are important to your overall security, as these are patches that fix vulnerabilities. If not updated, these vulnerabilities could allow an attacker backdoor access to your PC. Be sure to update your operating system, web browser, and other applications whenever they are made available – even if it seems like an inconvenience.

Secure your accounts with strong passwords
The password to your accounts is comparable to the key to your home’s front door. In the same way you’d make sure your home is safeguarded from unauthorized access, you should secure your accounts in the same way. ‘Password’ or ‘abc123’ are vulnerable passwords to use to secure your accounts, as cybercriminals will likely try these first. Rather, create strong passwords by using a combination of uppercase and lower letters, symbols, and numbers, as that makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to figure it out.

Double up your accounts’ security with two-factor authentication
While strong passwords are important in securing your accounts, we recommend an additional layer of security by enabling two-factor authentication. Should your password be compromised through brute force attack or by a major data breach, anyone trying to break into your account would not be able to do so unless they have physical access to your mobile phone or another independent source of authentication.

Avoid logging into accounts through email links
Phishing scams are nothing new, yet many consumers still fall for them. An individual might receive an email indicating that unusual activity had been detected and to click a link to verify. Unfortunately, once you click the link and enter your personal information, that information is now in the hands of a cyber-criminal.

Simply, the best way to avoid becoming a victim of a phishing scam is to never log into accounts through links within emails. Instead, go directly to the website to login.

Never access sensitive accounts on public WiFi
Consumers love free WiFi; unfortunately, so do cybercriminals. Since 90% of public WiFi networks are unsecured, this means any data being transmitted could be intercepted by cybercriminals. To prevent your sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands at public WiFi hotspots, never access your bank or email while connected to unsecured public WiFi. If you must, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to ensure your communications over public WiFi are encrypted and private.

Secure your home wireless router
One crucial component of security that many people tend to overlook is the security of their home wireless router. Some people might see wireless routers as merely a device that allows PCs, tablets, and smartphones to be wirelessly connected to the Internet. However, neglecting to properly secure your router could allow hackers access to your connected devices. And that’s something you don’t want happening.

Make security a top priority
This year make security a top priority. Taking security measures, such as those listed above, is a powerful step towards protecting yourself from malware and cybercriminals. If you’ve already taken measures to protect your PC, you’re definitely on the right track.

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