How to Keep Safe Online During the Holiday Hurry

Digital Family, Security & Privacy

A staggering 97 percent of children use mobile devices of some sort, according to a recent study. So even if a new phone or tablet isn’t on the holiday wishlist, you can bet that that your kids will eventually use any new device that enters your home.

But you don’t have to be a child to make silly mistakes online.

Whenever you’re online, the potential for a slip up always exists. During the holidays, the pressure is on and the chances of exposing your private financial details only increases. So before you begin celebrating, now is an excellent time to brush up on your basic cyber security.

These basics will keep you more secure and help ensure that you won’t spread online threats to your friends and family.

  1. Security software is a must
    Install up-to-date security software like F-Secure SAFE onto all your devices. This includes smartphones and tablets. Yes, mobile malware is far less common than PC threats — but you’re still vulnerable to many of the same scams that you face on your desktop, which you why you want to make sure your security blocks malicious websites.
  2. Avoid clicking on links and attachments in emails you weren’t expecting
    We thought we solved the problem of bad email attachments years ago, but everything that’s old is new again. Keeping your email box as uncluttered as possible by unsubscribing to unneeded mailing lists — or never signing up in the first place — will help you stay focused and not get tricked into clicking on suspicious things. Be especially wary of unsolicited emails that ask you update your password or important contact details when you have not specifically requested that these emails be sent. This seems logical but some of the world’s smartest CEOs have been taken down by a bad link.
  3. Keep everything updated — especially your browser
    When your PC or device tells you it’s time to update its software, believe it. Yes, this might result in slight changes to the user interface that take a bit to adapt to, but it will also ensure that you’re not leaving gaping security holes for criminals to sneak into your digital life.
  4. Lock it up
    Whatever device you’re using should be locked when you’re not in use. Make sure you have an unguessable code for your PC, tablet or phone. And if you use an iPhone or an iPad, F-Secure Labs recommends that you change your passcode to a “Custom Alphanumeric Code” and create a good passphrase, which is a few words or an acronym of few words you find easy to remember. To do this on your iOS device, go to: Settings > Passcode > Change Passcode > Enter Old Passcode > Passcode Options.
  5. Be Password smart
    Use a unique and strong password for every important account. It has to be unique to protect you if that entire service is hacked. And it has to be strong so you won’t be hacked personally. This advice sounds simple but given the many important accounts most of us have, it can get very difficult. Consider using a password manager or locker — like our F-Secure KEY, which is free on one device — to help you. Because without unique, strong passwords, you’re basically leaving the front door to your online accounts wide open.

[Image by hermanturnip | Flickr]

 

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