Whether you’re a gadget guru or you only use technology out of necessity, it’s vital to understand digital security.
Keeping your digital items (like your computer, tablet, and mobile phone) safe is a major concern, especially when you travel. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of erroneous information about digital security threats.
Here, we break down five digital security myths so you can keep your items and your information safe. Whether you’re using electronics at home or while you travel, follow these tips to maximize your privacy and security.
Stay Safe When You Travel With These 5 Security Tips
Myth 1: “It Won’t Happen to Me”
This is one of the most common misconceptions about digital security. There are several different types of digital threats including hacking, phishing, and malware (malicious software like spyware, adware, viruses, and worms designed to damage your computer or mobile device). Many people take these threats too lightly, and falsely believe, “it won’t happen to me.”
In reality, hackers and cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new ways to steal data and hack accounts. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be scared to leave your home or use technology, it simply means you need to take the necessary precautions to keep your data safe.
Here are some things you can do to boost your digital security:
1. Download Anti-Virus Software
Download anti-virus software on your computer and run regularly-scheduled scans. There are also some anti-virus apps available for smart phones so check the app store.
Note: Since viruses and malware can be hidden in apps, make sure your’e downloading applications from trusted sources. Also, do your homework; read online reviews (http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/top-android-se... )before downloading and installing apps.
2. Avoid Suspicious Websites and Links
Check before you click! If you receive links in your email, hover over them with your mouse to see the URL. Also, double check the e-mail header; if you receive a mass email from a friend with a suspicious message and a link, he or she may have been hacked.
3. Don’t Download Anything From an Unknown Source
Downloads can contain viruses and malware. Don’t download anything from an unknown website.
4. Watch Out for Phishing Scams
Cyber criminals use phishing scams to steal your personal information. Phishing scams usually work through an e-mail or instant message, and they trick you into entering your personal information. Double check any emails and websites, and be especially careful where you enter your personal information.
Note: Phishing scams can be disguised to look like real websites or emails.
Myth 2: “If I Use a Mac (or iPhone), I Don’t Need to Worry”
Contrary to popular belief, Apple products are not immune to viruses and scams.
This belief stems from the fact that in the past, less malware was written for the Mac OS X platform; however, with digital threats constantly evolving, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Many computer users avoid anti-virus software because it can slow down the computer, but which would you prefer, a slower computer or a security breach?
Myth 3: Digital Threats Only Affect Computers - Not Mobile Devices
New technology means new threats. Cyber attacks aren’t only limited to your computer, hackers can access your smartphone through apps, Bluetooth, and e-mail/text scams.
Follow these tips to keep your smartphone safe:
1. Update your apps and operating system
Application and software updates include important security patches, so regular updates are essential for mobile security.
2. Use a Passcode
A passcode on your phone is your first line of defense.
3. Turn Off Bluetooth
When you enable your Bluetooth connection in a public place, like an airport or hotel lobby, anyone around you can pick up the signal and access your phone.
4. Use Applications to Locate and Remote Wipe Your Device
Enable Find my iPhone or Where’s my Droid? These apps can help you locate your device if it’s lost or stolen, and also enable remote access so you can delete sensitive data.
Myth 4: Public Wi-Fi is Safe
Public Wi-Fi is extremely convenient when you want to use the Internet on your laptop or cell phone, but it can also be a security risk.
Avoid networks that aren’t password protected, and when you use public Wi-Fi, ask the staff for the network name; hackers sometimes create networks with similar names.
Myth 5: My Credit Cards and Transactions Are Safe
Don’t forget about the digital items you keep in your wallet and use everyday: you credit cards!
While you can do your best to keep your credit cards from being physically lost or stolen, be careful with your cards in places like hotels, casinos, and restaurants.
“For travelers, it’s important to keep in mind that hotels and restaurants often have a below average track record with cybersecurity,” Huffington Post writes. “According to Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report, hotels, restaurants and casinos had the worst rate of point-of-sale breaches of any other sector - with 91% of security incidents directly attributable to point-of-sale compromises.”
To prevent fraudulent charges, be diligent about checking your accounts and transactions. You may also want to consider a separate credit card for travel, as this makes it easier to spot suspicious activity.
With new technology, some hackers are even able to steal credit card information while your card is in your wallet or pocket. These electronic thieves can use a wireless card reader to skim your information from a RFID-enabled credit cards .
Luckily, there are RFID-blocking wallets you can buy if you’d like added protection.
Now that you know the truth about these digital security myths, you’re in a better position to protect yourself and your data. Learning about digital threats is the best thing you can do to prevent cyber attacks.
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