February is Data Security Month
Data security cannot be stressed enough. These days, you can accomplish your daily tasks without leaving the comforts of your home if you have Internet access. While this is very convenient it also carries the potential to be very dangerous as well. With so much data available every day it is no wonder that cyber criminals are coming up with new ways to steal this data. Here are some tips, provided by the Department of Homeland Security, to help secure your online data.
- Set secure passwords and don't share them with anyone. Avoid using common words, phrases, or personal information and update regularly. Tip: You can base your password of a sports team or Disney character. For example, if I choose “Simba”, I can change certain letters in to symbols and get “$!mbA”. This password is very difficult to guess but easy to remember.
- Keep your operating system, browser, anti-virus and other critical software up to date. Security updates and patches are available for free from major companies. Updates to these programs include security updates to help keep you secure. As cyber criminals become craftier, so too do the security measures needed to protect you.
- Verify the authenticity of requests from companies or individuals by contacting them directly. In other words, call them. No authentic company will ever ask for your personal information via e-mail. If you have any doubts to the veracity of an e-mail, you can independently contact the company directly for verification.
- Pay close attention to website addresses. Malicious websites sometimes use a variation in common spelling (hotmail.com vs. hotmial.com) or a different domain (.com instead of .net) to deceive unsuspecting computer users.
- Turn off the option to automatically download attachments. Since your e-mail can be obtained quite easily, anyone can send you a malicious attachment. Play it safe and download only the attachments that come from trusted sources.
- Limit the amount of personal information you post. Do not post information that would make you vulnerable, such as your address, vacation times or new purchases. Criminals can put information together over time. If your friend posts information about you, make sure the information is something that you are comfortable sharing with strangers.
- Take advantage of privacy and security settings. Use site settings to limit the information you share with the general public online. For instance, Facebook allows you to only share information with people you have deemed "friends."
- Be wary of any strangers on social media sites.
- Only access the Internet over a secure network. On campus, the SHSU secure network is SamNet. Maintain the same vigilance you would on your computer with your mobile device.
- Be suspicious of unknown links or requests sent through email or text message. Do not click on unknown links or answer strange questions sent to your mobile device, regardless of who the sender appears to be.
- Download only trusted applications from reputable sources or marketplaces (i.e., the App Store or Google Play).
For more information, check out these sites: