By: Julie Maloney, Sales Coordinator for Morrison-Maierle Systems
We all use the internet, and nothing is going to change that. But can we use it safely?
Avoiding sketchy websites used to be the key to protecting yourself online, and for the most part, it was rather easy to do. Now, avoiding malicious websites is only part of the picture. You can be infected with viruses, spyware, Trojans and other ruthless malware simply by opening the wrong email, clicking on the wrong link, or landing on the wrong website (whether it seems sketchy or not). However, this doesn’t mean safeguarding your online world is a lost cause.
Protecting yourself online involves some work on your end, as well as a high degree of suspicion. Here are six basic steps you can take to better protect yourself online.
USE STRONG PASSWORDS
Craft your passwords to be strong, and you’ll sidestep the majority of online threats. In the event of a serious data breach, the stronger your password, the less likely that your account information will leak. But what does a strong password look like? Try a phrase with capital letters, numbers and symbols. Just make sure the phrase is altered from account to account. Here are two examples:
BE SUSPICIOUS OF EMAILS
Always be skeptical of who messages come from and what they’re asking you to do. Malicious emails can be extremely targeted, making them very believable. It’s important never to click on links, download files, or follow through with a request until you validate the email and its contents. Use your mouse to hover over any links in the email to see the actual landing page of that link.
SHOP ONLY ON TRUSTWORTHY WEBSITES
Sometimes it might be tempting to purchase products on obscure websites – maybe the product you’re looking for is hard to find, or it’s considerably cheaper on less popular sites. But is it worth losing your financial information to a thief or infecting your computer with a virus because you found a cheaper product? Think twice, be discerning, and do your research to verify that you’re shopping with a trusted source.
INSTALL A GOOD ANTI-VIRUS
Today’s anti-virus software is relatively inexpensive, and it can be installed it on all your connected devices. Even though operating systems and browsers often come with their own security, a layered security model is necessary in the face of today’s threats.
LOCK YOUR DEVICE
You should always have your connected device locked – PC, laptop, tablet, phone – anything that connects to your network. Utilize passwords to access your device and then additional passwords to access applications and online accounts stored on them.
KNOW THE SETTINGS ON YOUR BROWSER
Browser settings can help protect you online if you know what to look for. You can block pop-ups, secure your privacy, turn off search history, and ask the browser to notify you of malicious sites. To learn more, do an online search of your specific browser and you should be able to find a comprehensive list outlining how to implement their security features.
ABOUT MORRISON-MAIERLE SYSTEMS
We help our clients gain a competitive advantage through the strategic use of technology.
Morrison-Maierle Systems is passionate about technology, and we have been since 1982. We strive to improve your quality of life at work, and we do it by optimizing IT environments to stabilize operations and increase productivity. We help businesses get more value from their technology, giving them the peace of mind to focus on what’s most important – their business.
We are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Morrison-Maierle, and a 100 percent employee-owned, Montana Company.
We’re proud to be the only provider in Montana to have achieved the MSP Alliance Cloud Verify Certification, a rigorous industry qualification requiring annual 3rd party audits.
We are also a proud member of the Montana Chamber of Commerce, and we applaud their advocacy of businesses across the state.
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