As smart devices and online activity becomes ever more frequent, so does the need for staying safe while connected to the internet. Below are some general tips and reminders to follow when online. If you have additional questions or concerns, stop by the police station or call us at 781-259-8113.
- Protect your devices with a password. It may be quicker to access your phone, computer, tablet, or home WiFi without password protection, but having no protection enabled allows anyone to access it.
- Logout of websites and devices once you are done. A password is no good if you remain logged in on a website/device 24/7. While it is safer to remain logged in constantly on your privately owned device, not all websites automatically log you out when you close the tab/window if you are using a public computer.
- Keep your antivirus software up to date. There are plenty of choices available for antivirus programs available for computers, phones, tablets, and even routers. Be sure to have updates enabled and either set up automatic scans or manually scan your devices daily.
- Practice safe browsing. The internet's vast expanse is filled with many hard to see pitfalls, whether it be visiting a website of unknown reputation, clicking on suspicious links, or accidentally clicking on a pop-up ad. It is sometimes safer to manually type in a website's address than clicking on a link, especially with links embedded in emails.
- Never download unknown files from unknown sources. Especially any files ending in .exe, which are executable files and may install malware, viruses, or allow someone else access to your computer.
- Never allow someone you do not know to remote access your computer. 'Remote access' allows someone else to access your entire computer via the internet but usually can only be enabled if you grant access. A common tactic to illegally gain access is someone posing as 'IT support' from Microsoft or another tech company. If you believe someone has remote accessed your computer, with or without your knowledge, disable any internet connections (unplug any ethernet cables or turn off WiFi) and contact your local police department.
- Remember that private may not be private. Companies love gathering data for marketing and advertising. Many companies ask you to agree to their privacy policies and disclose what information they gather and how that information is used; be sure to read them before clicking accept. Most phone and tablet apps will request access to parts of your phone (contacts, camera, location, etc) before launching for the first time, and can usually be disabled in the app settings.
- Backup your data. Whether it be a hard drive failure, you lose your device, theft, or a hacker holds your data hostage via ransomware, you should always backup your data.
- Cybersecurity is always evolving. Cybercriminals are always coming up with new methods to gain access to places they are not supposed to. As smart-devices become more and more common, so do the number of ways cybercriminals can gain access to your information. Be sure to stay informed to any breaking news involving security threats, data breaches, or cyber attacks that may impact you.