October 6, 2021
Cybersecurity Awareness Month: 6 Ways to Protect Your Privacy
What is “cyber?” Well, cyber is your home away from home. We live, work, and play on the internet. Just as we were told not to take candy from strangers and wait for the streetlight to turn green, we all need to take steps to protect ourselves when surfing the web. Cybersecurity is looking both ways before crossing the street—it is the way in which you secure information shared online.
The entire wireless ecosystem—operators, manufacturers, and operating system and app providers—works together to develop security features for wireless networks and us. Government also plays a role in protection, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Department of Homeland Security (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency). However, at the end of the day, you are the last line of defense to your cybersecurity. All of us play a role in protecting our information and creating a safer ecosystem in cyberspace.
Bad actors continue to prey on Americans who may not know about cybersecurity. Cybercriminals can attempt to steal your information through scam texts, calls, and emails. According to a recent study, 47% of Americans experienced identity theft in 2020, costing $712.4 billion in losses.
You have the power to protect yourself against online scammers—follow these easy steps to protect your privacy:
- Look for https:// in the website address bar. That extra “s” at the end of “https://” stands for “secure.” This means you’ve securely connected to a website, but it doesn’t always mean your information is protected when you enter information on the website. Cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in online theft and have added https:// on spoof sites to make visitors feel protected. So be wary before you enter information on a website. Check if the website brand a social media presence, or use a browser report to make sure a website is legitimate before entering your information.
- Do not click URLs from contacts you do not know. Whether it’s a text message promising a gift card, or an email asking you to share personal information, do not click links sent from phone numbers and suspicious email addresses you do not recognize. It might be a phishing scam or malicious malware.
- If you see something, say something. If you receive a suspicious text message, you can send an alert to your wireless provider by copying the text message and forwarding it to SPAM (7726). You’ll receive a text asking you to share the phone number. This step could help protect others from scam texts.
- Don’t use the same password for different accounts. If a cybercriminal guesses your password and you use that password for multiple sites, it can give the cybercriminal access to all accounts that utilize the same password. Try to use complicated passwords that make it difficult to guess. If you have trouble remembering or creating passwords, try a password manager or use an older unconnected device to store your passwords.
- Always log out. Whether you are pairing your phone to a rental car for a road trip, or using a public device to read your email and print out a document, it is always important to remember to log out of your personal account and unpair your device. Think of it as locking the door when you leave your house.
- Check your WiFi settings in public places. Scammers can create public WiFi networks that leave you vulnerable to attacks. Update your phone’s WiFi settings so that you are not automatically joining WiFi networks. This will help you maintain control over your internet connection while you are out in public.