Your Cybersecurity Checkup: 16 Tips for Better Protection Against Coronavirus and Other Scams
With warnings of increased cyber scams related to the Coronavirus and many people working at home, it’s a good time to remember the cybersecurity basics. Learn these 16 tips to help better protect yourself and your loved ones from scams.
Passwords and Email
- Use strong passwords - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advises implementing a password on all devices and apps. It’s best to use the longest password or passphrase allowed and to set a unique password for each account, instead of reusing the same password across multiple accounts.
- Consider enabling multi-factor authentication - Many services offer multi-factor or two-factor authentication, which is another layer of security, typically in the form of a code sent to the individual’s phone. Multi-factor authentication can make it harder for scammers to successfully login to an account if they manage to steal a username and password combination.
- Be wary of unsolicited messages - Experts say that individuals should always be wary of unsolicited messages via email, chat applications, or text. If needed, it’s better to type in the organization’s official web address manually (instead of clicking a link from an email) or to contact the organization through other means to determine if the message is legitimate. Learn the signs of phishing and how to better protect against it.
- Keep device software up-to-date - Software updates often include protection against recently discovered threats and new fixes for security vulnerabilities. It’s recommended to turn on software auto-updates for computers, smartphones, and tablets.
- Consider antivirus software - Experts recommend installing an antivirus program and keeping it up to date. Also, consider using a website reputation rating tool, which can help warn about potentially dangerous websites.
- Make a backup - It’s always a good idea to back up data, including information stored on your phone. Backup options may include an external hard drive or cloud storage.
- Get apps from official sources - It’s best to download new apps from official sources, such as the Apple App Store or Google Play. Experts advise against downloading apps from third-party application sites, as they sometimes distribute malware.
Internet Use and Online Purchases
- Pay attention to URLs - Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but sometimes the URL has a variation in spelling or a different domain, such as .net instead of .com. Don’t assume that a website is legitimate just because its URL starts with “https,” as criminals have been known to use encrypted sites.
- Guard personal and financial information - It’s advised to never provide a username, password, date of birth, Social Security number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an email or robocall. Do not respond to email solicitations for personal or financial information, including following links sent in email.
- Keep track of financial transactions - Monitor credit statements monthly for any fraudulent activity. Report unauthorized transactions to the bank or credit card company as soon as possible.
- Review credit reports annually - Experts recommend that individuals review a copy of their credit report at least once a year to look for any unexpected activity, which could be a sign of potential fraud.
- Dispose of financial documents securely - Never throw away credit card or bank statements in a usable form, such as by putting them directly into the trash or recycling bin. The FTC recommends disposing of sensitive data by shredding it first.
Working from Home
- Secure your home network - The FTC recommends that individuals secure their home networks by turning on encryption (WPA2 or WPA3), which helps scramble information sent over the network.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) - A VPN can help secure web traffic against bad actors who may try to steal or monetize a person’s data.
- Store sensitive information securely - Keep confidential documents and files out of sight, by locking them in a file cabinet or room. In addition, experts advise that individuals keep devices with them at all times or store them in a secure location when not in use.
If You Believe You Have Been a Victim of a Cybercrime
If you believe you have been the victim of an Internet scam or cyber crime or to report suspicious activity, visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
- For more Internet Crime Prevention Tips, visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
- For more information on better detecting and avoiding certain Coronavirus-related scams, view ID Watchdog posts on phishing, robocalls, and other COVID-19 scams.