Matt Moenter, Information Technology Officer | Brian Bronikowski, Information Technology Specialist
Facebook, T-Mobile, Capital One, Quest Diagnostics, Equifax, could you be next? Those are just a few well-known organizations that have suffered from a data breach within the last couple years. You put your trust in these organizations to keep your personal and/or business data safe, and it is their responsibility to do just that, but so many times they just don’t.
Information can be leaked from many different sources along your personal electronic landscape. These can include: viruses on your devices, falling for vishing attacks (the act of making phone calls pretending to be reputable companies in order to surrender private information that could be used for identity theft), or even stolen from your garbage!
So, what can YOU do this Data Privacy Day to help secure your own data? We recommend following these simple tips to help keep your information safe and secure!
Set Strong Passwords and Change Them Regularly
Avoid the obvious. Do not use your children’s names or important dates (birthday, anniversary, wedding). Use random numbers and words that can be easily remembered. Just as a lion will watch its prey before attacking, a hacker will likely gather information available publicly before attempting to steal your information.
If the site allows, utilize two factor authentication. This is usually a separate text message or app on a smart phone that coincides with the password for the site. And because our lives are so closely tied to our electronic landscape and there are so many passwords we must remember, consider using a password keeper app for your smart phone. They are inexpensive and very effective at helping you remember all the vital information (especially passwords) that our lives revolve around.
Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
Avoid using public wireless internet connections. This includes coffee shops, hotels, airports, bus/train stations, etc. Malicious actors could easily be grabbing your login information sent over those public airwaves. Consider too that in public spaces the connection may appear to be secured, but it is a public wireless network being used by others. One of those “others” could be scanning that so-called secured wireless network for juicy pieces of information like personal or banking data. It’s best to stick with secured, known networks. Most cell phone plans include a mobile hotspot feature. If you need internet while on the go, connect your laptop to your cell phone for internet access.
In public spaces the connection may appear to be secured, but it is a public wireless network being used by others. One of those “others” could be scanning that so-called secured wireless network for information like your personal or banking data.
Update Your Antivirus Software
There is no such thing as a secure device. Laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets…there’s antivirus for all! It doesn’t matter if it is Mac, Windows, Linux, etc. Use a well-known, reputable antivirus for your devices. Many include a “home” license that you can use across all your devices including mobile!
Most important of all – keep it up to date! While we’re on the topic of keeping your software up to date, it is best to keep all your software updated, especially your device’s operating systems (Windows or MacOS).
Don’t overshare on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. Not only are social media networks harvesting your data, but there are bad actors out there looking to find the person who has their privacy settings wide open and has their major personal data available for all to see.
Do some legwork and make sure to turn on all the privacy settings on your favorite social media apps. Remember – if that friend request is coming from someone you don’t know, it’s best to decline it.
At Waterford, we put forth our best efforts to keep your data safe – but it is a team job.
Take your privacy protection to the next level and share these tips and tricks with your family and co-workers. After all, your information is only as safe as the weakest link, so help to make sure your kids, spouses, co-workers know how to keep information safe. Teach them the importance of being aware of the information they might be revealing through social media or while on the phone.
Your information is only as safe as the weakest link, so help to make sure your kids, spouses, co-workers know how to keep information safe.
It’s a scary world out there and by taking the time to enhance your knowledge on Data Privacy Day will help better position you for enhanced cyber security year ‘round. Technology is a great way to stay in touch with your family, enhance your workflow, and beyond, but only if you use the tech tools at your disposal safely and securely. Remember to be smart and stay private!
About the Authors
Matt Moenter is an Information Technology Officer at Waterford Bank, N.A. Taking the phrase, “To beat a hacker, you need to think like a hacker” to heart, he has earned his Certified Ethical Hacker credentials though various rigorous certification exams.
Brian Bronikowski is an Information Technology Specialist at Waterford Bank, N.A. He specializes in hardware repair and holds a Security+ Certification, showcasing his comprehension of risk management, risk mitigation, threat management, and intrusion detection.