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Your Comprehensive Cybersecurity Checklist: 30+ Strategies to Safeguard Your Information

Personal Banking Financial Well-Being
Hands typing on a laptop keyboard with graphics of security icons.

Last month, we touched on the prevalence of fraud, some of the top scams right now and tips for avoiding them (click here if you missed it). We take your protection seriously and want to keep you informed on these topics, so we’re continuing this cybersecurity series and equipping you with more ways to protect yourself this fall. Read on for proactive strategies and best practices to safeguard your information, or click here for a printable version you can complete.

Passwords
Today, we do everything online. Nearly every service and mobile app requires a username and password, so it comes as no surprise that according to research by NordPass, the average person has 100 passwords they must memorize or keep safely stored! That’s a lot to keep up with, which means often our passwords aren’t very good.

For better password protection:

  • Always change default passwords.
  • Use complex passwords that are 16+ characters long and include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
  • Change all passwords at least once per year.
  • Use a password manager such as LastPass or 1Password. These services not only keep all your passwords in one place, but they also auto-fill them for you. They can create strong passwords for you to use, and some services even monitor if logins have been compromised.
  • Turn on two-factor authentication for all sites that offer it. This adds another level of protection by requiring you to input a message or code from your phone when logging in from a new device.

Devices
All of your data is housed on your devices. Your phone probably knows more about you than anyone considering it stores your contacts, location, message history, photos, and more. This is another important area to put precautions in place.

To secure your devices:

  • Turn on automatic updates to ensure you have the latest and greatest security features built in.
  • Keep your web browser and browser plugins updated as well.
  • Use anti-virus protection software to fight attacks and block malware from your computer.
  • Use a passcode of 6+ characters for your phone. Don’t use a repeating or simple incremental code.
  • Do an audit of which apps have access to your contacts, location, camera, microphone, and other data, and remove unnecessary access.
  • Use automatic screen lock settings to ensure your devices aren’t left unattended and open.
  • Check what is accessible on your phone’s lock screen (i.e., text messages and emails showing in notifications, Siri capabilities, etc.) and decide if you’re comfortable with it. If not, turn it off.
  • Use secure Wi-Fi networks and avoid public Wi-Fi.
  • Only install apps from trusted sources.
  • Leverage Find My iPhone or the Android Device Manager to prevent loss or theft.
  • Delete applications you no longer use.

Data Management
Thousands of emails and texts can give a hacker a lot of information about you. Beyond preventing someone from getting into your devices and accounts, another security strategy is to lessen the amount of data they could access if it happens.

To clean up your data:

  • Back up important files regularly to a secure server, hard drive, or cloud storage.
  • Set your phone to delete text messages after a period of time (i.e., after 30 days) instead of keeping them forever.
  • Decide on a retention time for emails as well (i.e., a year) and save any older, important ones elsewhere (i.e., emails containing legal documents, contracts, etc.).
  • Go through other services that store data for you like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive and delete unnecessary files.
  • Clear your browser’s history regularly.
  • Delete online accounts that you no longer use.

Social Media
Though it is a fun pastime and way to connect with others online, don’t discount the security and privacy risks from sharing information on social media about where you are and what you’re doing.

To manage your social media presence:

  • Assume everything you post has the potential to become public. Once it’s online, you can’t take it back.
  • Keep in mind how what you’re posting could come across to prospective employers or clients and if it could be taken out of context.
  • Spend time auditing your settings on each network, especially privacy controls that determine who is eligible to see the content you post.
  • Check your public profile and customize what people who are not connected to you can view.
  • Review who is in your friends or connections list for fake accounts.
  • Decide if you want others to be able to see who you are connected with.
  • Search yourself both on social media and search engines like Google and Bing to see what comes up. Make sure there isn’t any information that is out of date or that you don’t want available, and if there is, attempt to remove it.

We hope this guide has been helpful in increasing your digital security. We recommend reviewing this information annually as a cybersecurity audit. Click here for a printable version you can complete.

Stay tuned here on our blog and on our social media accounts for more fraud prevention and cybersecurity tips. Next month, we’ll be joining the American Bankers Association in the #BanksNeverAskThat campaign with more insight on how to thwart phishing attempts.

 

The content above contains links to third-party sites. Our privacy and security policies do not apply to sites not controlled by Southern First. Please refer to our External Link Policy for more information.

 

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