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Practice cyber safety when you go online

Posted 11 March 2014 12:00 AM by Cindy Rinker

For most people, even children, the Internet is no longer an optional resource. As people become more comfortable using the Internet, they start giving out personal information to shop or bank or sign up for software and games. This comfort level sometimes leads to situations where information can be stolen and abused by others.

StaySafeOnline.org, powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), has information on what steps an individual or family needs to take to stay safe online. Those tips are based on their slogan Stop. Think. Connect.

Keep a clean machine

  • Make sure your security software is current.
  • Automate software updates so your computer will be ready to defend against the latest viruses and malware.
  • Scan all USBs and other external devices before using them. Protect your personal information
  • Secure your accounts by asking for protection beyond passwords. Most providers have additional ways for you to verify who you are before you conduct business.
  • Make passwords long and strong. Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
  • Unique account, unique password. Do not use the same password for different accounts.
  • Write it down and keep it safe. Write down your passwords and keep them somewhere away from your computer.
  • Own your online presence. Set the privacy and security settings to your comfort level when it comes to information sharing. It is OK to limit how and with whom you share information.

Connect with care

  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer.
  • Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots. Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
  • Protect your money. When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites are security enabled.

Be Webwise

  • Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online.
  • Think before you act. Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true or asks for personal information.
  • Back it up. Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

For more information about how to protect your personal information and how to keep your part of the Internet safe and sound, visit www.stopthinkconnect.org or www.staysafeonline.org.

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