Over the last 10 years the number of internet users has doubled from two billion to four billion – more than half of the global population. National Data Privacy Day on January 28 reminds us that while this new decade promises exponential technology development, it’s even more important for internet users to be vigilant in protecting their privacy.
Cox is the largest internet carrier in Arizona, providing homes with 10+ devices (average) internet speeds up to 1 Gig. We also like to share information with our customers about how they can help protect themselves against internet threats.
Here are some DIY tips that can help ensure the internet remains a safe environment for learning, commerce and communicating with friends and family.
1. Be search engine safe. It’s one thing to browse and quite another to buy something online. It’s easy to get scammed. Search engines can lead you to fake landing pages that seem like the true site you intend. If you see a deal at an online retailer through a search engine, go instead directly to the online retailer’s secure https// page. And, if you are on your mobile device, it’s safer to enter your intended retailer’s environment through their app.
2. Use two-factor authentication. This adds extra security to your logins making it more difficult for hackers to get into your online accounts. It’s usually as simple as registering a phone number to the online or mobile application.
3. Make sure your antivirus software is up to date. Whether it’s something you purchase online or through your internet service provider, like Cox Security Suite powered by McAfee, current antivirus software protects your network.
4. Start using a digital vault. Think about all of the passwords you have to manage. Can you really remember them all? Do you get a little lazy and just make a one character change when you are asked to update your password? Applications like LastPass help you create unique passwords for each site you login to while keeping track of all of those passwords for you. These sites also provide a safe place to store other sensitive data like credit card, social security, drivers license and passport numbers.
5. Don’t be a spear phishing victim. Many of us have seen those emails that purport to come from our bank but are really scammers trying to get personal information. Even worse is spear phishing where the scammer has acquired some real personal information about you and then emails you encouraging you to click on a link that leads you to a site full of malware.
6. Use a safe WiFi environment. Make sure that your router is using the safest security protocol available. WEP (Wireless Equivalent Protocol) is common, but has known weaknesses. WPA (WiFi Protected Access) or, even better, WPA2 is stronger.
7. Limit and protect personal information on social media. Make it harder for hackers by not sharing personal identifying information through sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Such information can be used as answers to security questions on banking and other sites where you want your data protected. Look at your privacy settings for each online application and think “Do they really need to know that about me?”
What you can do right now:
• Don’t get passed through to a desired website by search engines.
• Protect your logins with two-factor authentication.
• Update your antivirus software. You can’t stop online viruses yourself.
• Use a tool like LastPass to help create and store unique passwords along with your other personal data.
• If it looks fishy or phishy, don’t click on it.
• Protect your home WiFi network with a router running WPA or WPA2 security protocol.
• Configure your social media privacy settings.
Susan Anable is the Vice President of Public Affairs, Southwest Region at Cox Communications.