People spend a lot of time online these days — for work, life, play, and leisure. Perhaps not surprisingly, that time increased 10-fold during the pandemic for many of us. As more of our lives are lived online, it’s more important than ever to ensure we’re being safe.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to take a deep dive into your digital life and look for ways you could improve your overall security. Here are some things you may want to consider:
Practice Safe Surfing
From looking up the latest news to finding old friends on social media, searching the internet is a daily task for some, and even essential for many others. And because it’s become such a necessity, it also attracts hackers and scammers. If you’re not careful about the links you click or the items you download, you could easily find yourself the victim of an online scam.
If you’re shopping online , double check that you’re shopping on a secure website that begins with “https” instead of the outdated “http.” If your browser alerts you that the site you’re on has been reported as unsafe, leave the site immediately and run a security scan on your computer to make sure you haven’t been targeted. And if you don’t have security software on your computer, strongly consider purchasing some.
You should also be wary of any sites that offer get-rich-quick schemes, such as sports betting websites with high payouts, that ask for sensitive financial information. This is a common way for thieves to steal identities. Another way to protect yourself when shopping online is to turn on any account alerts available within your banking and credit card accounts so you can quickly spot any purchases you did not make.
Secure Digital Assets & Saved Payment Methods
As more and more financial information is stored online, hackers are getting better at stealing your information. If you expect you’ve entered your information on a spam website or that your credit card information has been stolen, reach out to your credit card company immediately to freeze your card and lock your credit . You may also want to ask for a copy of your credit report so you can dispute any credit reporting errors or scam charges .
One of the best ways to prevent your online information from being stolen is to have secure login credentials. The more random your username and password are, the harder it will be for scammers to get your information. Additionally, make sure you never share your passwords with anyone else and be wary of keeping sensitive account logins saved on your browser, such as for a bank account.
If you’re unfamiliar with the types of online scams that exist, now is a great time to educate yourself. You may want to start by looking at this year’s most popular scams and how people are falling for them. Fake websites that look like a major bank’s site or malicious links sent to your email are some common tactics. Unfortunately, many scammers take advantage of the elderly or other groups that may not be the most tech-savvy. If you or someone you know is an older person who shops online, take some time this month to educate yourself or your loved ones about how to identify a scam.
Scammers can also be found on popular social media sites. Never share your social media logins with other people, and update yourself on the latest scams hitting social media before you start browsing this month. Also, be aware of the different types of bank account frauds and scams and how you can protect yourself from them. Remember that scammers change tactics quickly as security breaches are patched or their methods become well known, so checking government websites frequently to stay afloat on the latest tactics is one of the best ways to stay prepared.
Despite how convenient it may be, shopping online increases the risk of identity theft, especially if you’re using popular sites that may be susceptible to hackers. For instance, Bitcoin and other popular crypto sites can be vulnerable to hackers due to large amounts of traffic and fake sites that look very close to actual crypto marketplaces. This is also true of Amazon, with many users reporting fake emails allegedly from Amazon that ask you to confirm your account information with fake links that don’t actually lead to Amazon. If you suspect your identity has been stolen online, reach out to the authorities immediately, and use an online identity theft guide to help you determine how to deal with the issue if you’re not sure how to proceed.
Around The Web
To help you learn more about cybersecurity, we’ve rounded up tips from security experts around the web on how to keep your identity, password, assets, and financial life safe from hackers and scammers.
• The Biggest Money Scams in the US
• Cybersecurity Tips for Remote Working & Learning During COVID-19
• National Cyber Awareness Tips
• What You Need to Know About Cybersecurity
• 6 Safe Search Engines for Kids
Cybersecurity is an increasingly important aspect of your digital health and wellbeing. Not being caught up on the latest scams and hacking attacks could put your identity and money at risk. You can stay safe online by practicing safe browsing, keeping your login information secret, only shopping on trusted websites, and keeping yourself educated about cybersecurity issues even after Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
And if you’re looking for some extra security, SoFi Relay® is a budgeting app that can track your income, set up financial goals, and help you keep tabs on your spending. With it you’ll have an at-the-minute glance of your finances, so you’ll be able to know the instant anything seems out of place.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Photo credit: iStock/Eva-Katalin