Tips For Protecting Your Data
Tip #1 - You are a target to cyber criminals
Never tell yourself "It will never happen to me". Everyone is at risk of having their personal information and financial information stolen.
Tip #2 - Keep your computer and other devices up to date
Make sure that your computer and other devices have the latest software updates installed on them. This is to help keep cyber criminals from finding a security hole (vulnerability) and then exploiting it in order to steal your data.
- Ensure that Automatic Updates are turned on for your operating system (Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, etc.)
- Make sure your web browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.) is kept up to date.
- Keep your software programs up to date.
Tip #3 - Watch out for phishing scams
Phishing scams are electronic scams that try to trick you into giving the cyber criminal information that could be used to steal your data.
- Phishing scams can be conducted using various electronic communication methods including text/SMS, phone, social media, messaging, websites, and email (most common).
- Look out for any official looking email messages or phone calls that ask you to give out personal or financial information.
- These scammers claim to be from a trustworthy source such as the following: Government agency (IRS, FBI, District Attorney, etc).
- Look out for any emails or calls claiming to be from specific vendors such as Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Microsoft, technical support, Apple, financial institution, etc.
- "If you suspect deceit, hit delete."
- Don't download any attachments from suspicious emails.
- If an email includes a link to another website, don't click it. Hover the mouse cursor over the link. This may reveal the link's true destination.
- Pay attention to the website's link (URL) in your web browser's search box. Many phishing websites that ask for sensitive information do not have https://, instead they will only have http://
- As with anything, remember the saying: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Tip #4 - Install an Anti-malware Program
Anti-malware (often called anti-virus) programs help protect your device against various types of malware (malicious software). Malware includes computer viruses, computer worms, ransomware, scareware, (some) adware, rootkits, trojan horses (trojans), and any other software that was created for malicious purposes.
- Ensure the anti-malware program is up to date and working correctly.
- Scan your device frequently (at least once a week).
- If you suspect your device to be infected with malware, scan your device with an anti-malware program.
- Use only anti-malware software from trusted vendors.
- Get anti-malware software. Many offer free versions, but the paid versions have more features
Tip #5 - Back Up Your Data
A backup is a copy of something else. Make sure the backup is saved to a different location than the original. This is so that if something catastrophic happens to your device, data, files, etc, you can restore from the backup and access your data.
- Storage devices are devices that hold data for a long period of time. Such devices include USB flash drives, hard disk drives (HDD, hard drive), solid-state drive (SSD), external HDD, tape, SD cards, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray Discs.
- A backup can be something as simple as copying a file to another location (storage device).
- Ensure to backup frequently. Sometimes when an catastrophic event occurs, the only way to repair your device is to completely erase everything on it and re-install the OS (operating system).
Tip #6 - Good Password Management
Many people have several different passwords to remember in order to log into different accounts. Here are some good password tips:
- If able, use 10 characters minimum (20 characters is recommended).
- Use a mixture of numbers, upper/lower case letters, and special characters.
- Use a passphrase instead of a password if possible.
- Change your password every 30-90 days.
- Don't use dictionary words or common words.
- Don't use your name or anyone else's name.
- Don't write down your password.
- Don't share your password with others.
- Don't use the same password for everything.
- Don't use birth dates.
- Don't use your username.
- Don't use any personal information.
- If you believe your password or account has been compromised, change your password immediately.
Tip #7 - Don't Leave Your Device Unattended
Physical security is just as important, if not more important than the technical stuff.
- If you need to leave your computer, smartphone, tablet, etc, for any length of time, be sure to lock it, log off, or shut down the device beforehand.
- Make sure your device and external storage device is in a secured location so nobody else has access to it.
- If you are in a public place and have to leave your device unattended, make sure it is locked up.
Tip #8 - Protect Sensitive Information From Identity (ID) Thieves
Be watchful of any sensitive information (e.g., social security number (SSN), payment card information, financial information, passwords, usernames, PINs, health records, full name, address, phone number, etc.) that you may keep electronically or on paper.
- Make sure to shred any documents that contain sensitive information if they are no longer needed.
- Don't carry around anything that has sensitive information on it if not required.
- Make sure to erase all sensitive information stored on electronic devices before throwing them out or giving them away. If you are going to throw away unneeded storage media, it is best to electronically erase any data stored on the device and also physically destroy the device via smashing it with a hammer or by drilling holes in it.
- Don't leave anything containing sensitive information laying out in the open.
- Don't give out your SSN if it is not required.
- Make sure to check your credit report frequently and dispute any discrepancies. We currently offer a credit monitoring service. If you are interested, please contact Peggy Cantrell at (918)758-2401.
- If you are a victim of ID theft, report it to one of the three credit bureaus. That company is required to tell the other two:
Other Useful Tips
- Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi (wireless) hotspots. You never know who is monitoring it. Make sure to use a secure connection. Also, make sure your home Wi-Fi is secured with a good password and uses WPA2-PSK for the password setting.
- Make sure to use a software and/or hardware firewall.
- Be cautious of what information you share on social media websites. You never know who is watching.
- Check your accounts for suspicious activity.
- Make sure to log off of everything when using a device that is not yours.
- When using a device that is not yours, do not checkmark the box to remember log in information.
If you are unfamiliar with computers, learn the basics!