Your tech — along with the personal data sitting on that tech — is vulnerable to cybercriminals. They could trick you into downloading malware. They could access your banking information. They could steal your contact lists and your identity.
To avoid these terrible situations, you should follow these basic cybersecurity tips:
1. Run Updates:
Have you ignored those notifications that you need to run an OS (operating system) update? OS updates patch up vulnerabilities in your software and increase your computer’s security.
Check your device’s settings to see whether your operating system is up to date. If it’s not, run those updates right away.
2. Set Strong Passwords:
A password can prevent a serious security breach and protect your data. You don’t want to set weak passwords that could be easily guessed — like “password,” “12345” or “0000.” These will put your personal data at risk.
What defines a strong password?
- It should be 8 characters or more
- It should contain a mix of upper and lowercase letters
- It should contain at least one number and one symbol
3. Use a VPN:
A virtual private network (VPN) establishes a secure, encrypted connection between your device and the internet. It can keep your browsing activity private and hide your IP address, which can keep snooping cybercriminals at bay.
4. Antivirus Software:
Antivirus software (sometimes called anti-malware software) can detect and remove viruses from your device. Running this type of software in the background can give you protection against any cyberattacks.
5. Beware Phishing Scams:
A phishing scam is a fraudulent email that pretends to be from a well-known or trusted source, like your bank or your utility company. There are different goals of phishing scams. Some try to trick you into downloading malware, while others will try to get you to give away personal information (for example, bank account passwords). You can look at the Federal Trade Commission’s advice on how to avoid phishing scams.
What If Your Cybersecurity Has Been Breached?
If you haven’t followed these tips, and you think your laptop has been hacked or you’ve accidentally downloaded some malware, you should think about doing the following three things.
Go to the Pros:
Bring your laptop to a professional repair shop. They can help you detect the problem and resolve it.
You may have to pay for these emergency tech services out of pocket. If you don’t have enough in an emergency fund to cover the costs, you could look into a website that offers or services same business day loans online as a solution. If you’re approved for a same business day loan, you could use the borrowed funds to manage the service costs and then focus on repayments afterward.
Check Your Finances:
Many cybercriminals want to access your personal information so that they can commit financial fraud. Have you noticed any suspicious activity with your credit cards? Is your online banking showing purchases you don’t remember making? Is your credit score much lower than you thought?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these, you should call your bank and credit card provider. They’ll lock/freeze accounts and start investigations.
If you’ve been a victim of financial fraud through cybercrime, you should file a police report. You can also file cybercrime reports with the Federal Trade Commission and the United States Secret Service.
Protect your tech and protect yourself. Follow these cybersecurity tips now!