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Do you shop online…bank online…share photographs via social media?
In our technology-based world it is so important, now more than ever, to understand how to manage your privacy online and keep your personal information secure. AT&T recently conducted a survey that found 43 percent of Americans said they felt powerless about cyber security.
Phishing, SMiShing, Slamming and Cramming?!
Recently my grandparents, a retired city of Huntsville, AL employee and my grand-dad, a retired Army veteran, who worked for Boeing for many years, were scammed. They fell for some “social engineering.” They believed a pretty slick con-man who managed to shut down their home computer remotely. He warned them that their banking and personal information was vulnerable to public and he convinced these two rather savvy elderly people to cough up nearly $3000 by the time it was all over.
Just the most basic security tips and basic guards can prevent the majority of online scams and thefts. It is worth it to make these precautions a part of your online routine!
AT&T recently launched Cyber Aware, a new resource for consumers. It brings privacy and security together. Some of the most reliable ways to protect your privacy online are to follow a few of these security practices.
Treat cyber strangers like real-life strangers.
Below is a detailed list of recommendations from AT&T of helpful ways to keep your personal information safe.
- Don’t be like a wildebeest on the savannah, hoping that the lion eats another member of the herd. When it comes to cyber scams, always think, “This could happen to me.”
- Be aware of “social engineering.” That’s a fancy term for somebody tricking you on a phone call or email – for example, pretending to be from a certain company. Treat strangers like strangers. Share personal information only if you initiate the contact (such as calling the phone number on your bill) – not if someone reaches out to you.
- Only open email and text messages from people you know, and always have your guard up for odd-looking links. You are more vulnerable when you’re tired or not paying attention, so often these attempts are made at night.
- Keep your computers and mobile devices current with the latest operating system updates and security software. Really. Do it!
- Passwords! They are still with us. When you get a new connected device of any kind, don’t leave it on a default password like 0000. Don’t use your dog’s name – or use the same password for every account you have.
The latest federal study suggests the best password is probably the longest you can tolerate. It suggests a string of random, short words. (Throwing in numbers, capital letters, etc., is no longer part of the recommendation. Just make it long and random.)
Smart phones and other devices have changed our way of life and have connected us to the big wide world.
Take these steps and keep your privacy safe and secure. Those details about vacations and plans we all post…re-think just how much information you want to share online.
And if all of this sounds daunting and a little scary and maybe just too technical, don’t worry. There are so many resources out there. AT&T has a page that explains the most basic and advanced WORDS that we all take for granted when talking or researching about cyber -security and technology. Stay safe!