Cybersecurity can help protect your internet-connected devices from malicious attacks by hackers, spammers, and other cyber criminals. One small hack can lead to a significant loss in today’s digital world. According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), 47% of American adults have had their personal information exposed by cyber criminals. Cyber-attacks can come in many different forms. Malware, phishing, and ransomware affect individuals, businesses, and other organizations. Protect yourself from attacks with our cybersecurity checklist.
14-Step Cybersecurity Checklist
- Keep software and operating system updated. Turn on automatic updates. This will prevent you from forgetting to manually update your software whenever a new security patch is released. Software updates are critical to ensuring your network remains secure against cybercrime.
- Create strong and unique passwords for each account. The longer, the better. For example, use a combination of at least eight upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. Finally, do not use passwords with ties to your personal information, such as a child’s name, birthdate, or address. If you struggle with many passwords, consider using a password manager. A password manager is a software application that stores and organizes your usernames and passwords. They are safe to use as they use advanced encryption to protect your passwords. Never share passwords or pin numbers. Finally, change passwords frequently.
- Implement multi-factor authentication. The name may sound hard to implement, but it’s easy and effective. Just by connecting a phone or email to a login, a confirmation passcode can be sent to a device that needs to be entered before access is granted. It’s just one more layer of essential protection.
- Install antivirus software. Antivirus software prevents, scans, detects, and deletes viruses, malware, and spyware from a computer. Once installed, most antivirus software runs automatically in the background to protect you.
- Remove unwanted or unused apps from devices. While unwanted apps may not bother you, they not only take up storage space but can also potentially affect your device’s security.
- Don’t be quick to click. Never click on attachments if you are not certain who they are from and what they are. Carefully review the contents of emails and text messages. Look for typos, incorrect grammar, and anything suspicious, including questionable links or attachments.
- Look for HTTPS at the beginning of the website URL when logging into an account, ordering online, or entering any personal or financial information into a website.
- Use only secure Wi-Fi networks and avoid public Wi-Fi.
- Secure home Wi-Fi network. Begin by changing the SSID (service set identifier), or name, of your home Wi-Fi network. Many are set as a default SSID, which makes it easier for a hacker. You should always change this immediately. Second, make your wireless network password unique and robust. Third, enable network encryption if available. Fourth, disable name broadcasting to the general public. Finally, keep your router’s software up to date and make sure you have a good firewall.
- Use automatic screen lock settings on all devices to ensure unattended devices cannot be accessed.
- Monitor financial and credit card accounts regularly. If you have concerns, immediately contact your financial services companies directly.
- Be suspicious of unexpected contacts online or via text and asks for your personal information.
- Back up essential files and clean out your data and emails regularly. Delete unnecessary files, emails, and unused accounts. Clear your browser’s history regularly.
- Be discreet when posting on social media. You face real security and privacy risks when you share too much information about where you are and what you are doing. Everything you post has the potential to become public, so refrain from sharing private information.
Cyberattacks are malicious attempts to access your computer network or other devices. They can lead to the loss of money or the theft of personal, financial, or medical information. Our cybersecurity checklist was developed to help you better prepare. Read the Benchmark FCU blog each month for up-to-date articles on cybersecurity and scams. Don’t miss the “4 Scams Targeting Older Adults” and “Protect Yourself from 4 New Scams.”