The holidays are a great time for shopping and travel, but they are also prime time for cybercrime. ITS Information Assurance (IA) wants to gift you some Safe Computing tips to protect your personal data this holiday season.
Secure your devices
These basics will help you start out from a more secure place:
- Update your OS, software, and apps to get the best security for your devices. Consider turning on automatic updates and don’t forget to keep web browsers up to date!
- Back up your data to protect against losing data to malware, ransomware, theft, or loss of a device. Back up to a drive you keep somewhere safe, or use cloud storage for extra protection and portability.
- Use a known, secure network, such as your home network or a trusted network like MWireless. When away from home, the hotspot of your cell phone is a good alternative.
- Avoid public networks and turn off wireless auto-connect to protect important data like credit cards and bank info. These networks are rarely secure and give attackers the chance to steal your data or infect your devices with malware. If you must connect over a free/public network, use a VPN to stay secure.
After you take care of your basic device security, consider some best practices for online shopping:
- Don’t click on links in emails or social media feeds. Instead, go to the website itself by typing the website address in a new browser window. Be wary of any offer that seems too good to be true; it probably is.
- Use a vendor’s official app on mobile devices, but be mindful when sharing personal information or permission to access data from your other apps. Many large vendors provide mobile shopping apps that are easy and secure.
- Choose one credit card for online purchases to reduce possible damage if your favorite retailer experiences a data breach. Avoid using debit cards for online purchases.
- Check your credit card and bank statements regularly to monitor for fraudulent charges that need to be reported, and to keep track of what you’re spending.
To learn more, see Protect Your Online Shopping on Safe Computing.
Off to visit friends and family, or maybe to escape the chilly Michigan weather? Follow these tips to reduce risks to your devices and data:
- Keep your devices locked as a simple way to keep out prying eyes. Set devices to lock themselves after a few minutes of inactivity, and get in the habit of locking them after you look at what you need.
- Don’t announce your travel plans on social media. This is especially important if your home will be unattended while you’re gone. Direct-message anyone who needs to know you are gone before and while traveling, and wait until you come back to wow all your online friends with stories and photo albums from your trip.
- Don’t forget kids’ devices and make sure they are updated and protected like the rest of your devices. Kids’ devices might not regularly access your bank account, but they still contain important, personal information. If your kids access social media or communicate online, be sure to talk with them about digital safety.
See Travel Safely With Technology on Safe Computing for more tips about tech and travel.
ITS Information Assurance wishes you and yours a safe, secure, and happy holidays!