An update from the US Computer Emergence Readiness Team on staying alert to data protection in the new year.
Did you get any cool, new gadgets over the holidays? While devices like smart TVs, Apple watches, pet robots and home assistants certainly make our lives easier (and more entertaining), they have also made it easier for cyber criminals to steal our personal and private information.
In fact, the US Computer Emergence Readiness Team (US-CERT) has recently published an update on how best to secure your new devices to ensure your data’s protection.
Top 4 Steps to Secure Your Devices
US-CERT reports that using strong passwords, evaluating your privacy settings on a regular basis, considering where you connect to the internet and updating your software regularly are the main ways to protect yourself from fraud.
For instance, your new device may have prompted you with a generated password to streamline the set up. While this is fine for initial set up, you should always go back into your settings and change the provided password. This is because often the default passwords are terms that can be easily deciphered, and are therefore not strong enough to protect your information should someone try to break in.
You should also evaluate your privacy settings, which includes re-checking the security measures with each use. Certain devices may have features that require you to change settings to allow for plug-ins or shared data between device and app. While these features can be advantageous, the short-term gap in your security is not. Be sure to check your security settings when turning these functions on and off and remember to turn your security back when the device is not in use.
Making sure you are connecting only to secured and trusted internet sources is an easy and yet major way to thwart cybercrime. Remember, when you connect to an internet source you are connecting your device to a portal that is shared by potentially millions of other computers. And, just because you’re not actively using the internet on your device doesn’t mean it’s not connected. Make it a habit to disconnect internet accessibility on your devices when they are not in use.
Lastly, but not least, is regularly updating your device software. Manufacturers make updates to their software to ensure optimal function as well as to improve security measures and work out function bugs. By staying up to date with your software, you ensure your device has the most recent firewalls and patches to keep viruses out.
For the full US-CERT article, as well as additional resources for information on fraud protection and awareness go to: https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/current-activity/2018/12/28/Securing-New-Devices.
You can also contact your local SIS branch Assistant Manager with any questions, comments or concerns about securing your information online. We are always here to listen and to help!