Electronic Device Security
Electronic devices are indispensable parts of our lives. We use them for business, banking, socializing, shopping and much more, meaning there’s plenty of information stored in the programs and websites we visit most often. Because of this, computers and smartphones can be treasure troves for identity thieves and scammers seeking to infiltrate your system.
Keeping Safe From Hackers
Safeguarding your cell phone is vital. Hackers can use basic information stored on a phone to gather important information about you. For example, call histories can reveal where you do business and text messages often contain important password information. Here’s how to reduce your risk:
- Do not store any personal information on your phone.
- Lock your phone when it is not in use, and change your settings so that your phone locks after a certain time period.
- Make sure your phone’s firmware is up-to-date.
- Turn off Bluetooth on your phone when you are not using it.
- Do not open emails from senders you do not know.
- Do not send personal information via text message.
Preventing Device Theft
- Do not carry your phone in your hand where someone could easily grab it from you.
- Never leave your phone unattended in a public place.
- Download an anti-theft application, or make sure the one that comes pre-installed on your device is turned on. This will allow you to make the phone unusable if stolen.
- Purchase a tracking keychain/app combo. This way, you can track down both a lost phone (or reversely the item you have your keychain connected to) using Bluetooth.
If Your Device is Lost:
First steps to locating your lost device
- If possible, call your device. It may be closer than you may think.
- Attempt to track down your device using an installed anti-theft application.
- If unsuccessful and the anti-theft application allows, lock, deactivate, or erase your data remotely.
- Call your carrier to deactivate your phone or device. This way, a potential thief will not be able to rack up minutes or data leaving you with a hefty bill.
- File a police report.
Prevent others from accessing your personal info
- Log out of other devices (if possible) on apps that store your personal information.
- Reset your passwords on all your accounts that you use on the lost device.
Let others know
- Let your friends and family know in case someone tries to impersonate you by using your number or the accounts linked to your device.
Performing a few simple maintenance tasks can offer protection from common problems like hackers, spyware, trojans, viruses, and worms.
Stay Up-to-Date With Device Protection
- Install a good antivirus and anti-spyware program, and regularly update them.
- Use an active firewall on your computer and router and recognize any changes.
- Update your software regularly, and set your software to download updates automatically if possible. Using updated software helps to secure your device threats. With new updates, security features are added and “bugs” are squashed.
Be Mindful of Your Actions Online
- Avoid suspicious sites altogether.
- Do not download programs from the Internet without being certain you really want the program and that you trust the company or person from which it originates. Also, always ensure that your antivirus program is working and up-to-date before downloading any files from the web.
Know What is Normal
- Always be aware of changes in your computer. If it suddenly slows down for more than a few seconds, there may be something running in the background. If it happens more than once or twice and does not seem to be related to a program you are running, do a full scan with an anti-virus program, or take your device in to be looked at by a professional.
When You Are Done Using Your Computer
- Turn it off or disconnect it from the network. Many virus-like programs attack while your computer is in sleep mode. The hackers depend on you leaving your computer turned on to be available to them.
- If you do decide to keep your computer on when not in use, make sure it is locked with a secure password. This helps protect you from unauthorized user access.
- Set up a timeout. Choosing a set time for your device to enter “sleep mode” can prevent others from continuing your online banking session if you left your computer unattended without logging out. You can set this timeout period by visiting your device’s settings.
A firewall is a standard equipment on many computers and routers to combat hackers and malicious software. Firewalls protect your device and network by blocking unauthorized users from gaining access. They also prevent malicious materials to be sent from your device to others.
Does My Router Have a Firewall?
Search for the model of your broadband router on a search engine in your browser to see if it contains a firewall.
If it does, then check with your service provider or router hardware manufacturer for instructions to ensure the firewall is enabled. It many cases, this firewall will be turned on automatically. You may have more advanced options for this firewall by visiting your router’s web-based setup page.
If it does not, make sure you follow the steps as discussed below.
Select your operating system for instructions to verify that the firewall on your computer is turned on:
Viruses and Worms
What is a virus?
A virus is a man-made computer program that, when opened, infects your computer and attempts to spread itself to other computers. It will often attempt to spread via e-mail automatically by sending copies of itself to everyone in your address book.
What is a worm?
Shares most of the traits of a virus, but is able to spread on its own without human interaction.
How do they spread?
Viruses are mainly spread via e-mail, although some websites can infect your computer as well. Worms seek out non-infected computers by searching the network, and then spread themselves by exploiting security weaknesses.
Computer users often install viruses on their computers by accident. Because viruses spread themselves automatically, they often come from friends or family members without their knowledge. Even though an email came from someone you trust, you may still be in danger of contracting a virus. Even if a message comes from a sender you know, be weary if it contains a headline or misspellings that seem unusual, links, or attachments. This may be a virus impersonating the sender.
If someone you know sends you an attachment, scan it with an anti-virus program before you open it. Do not click on suspicious attachments or links.
How do I protect myself and my computer?
- Keep anti-virus software up-to-date so that is able to tackle the newest types of threats to your system.
- Set your anti-virus program to scan at start-up.
- Set your anti-virus program to scan each and every file when it’s used by the computer.
- Keep your computer software up-to-date — both your operating system and applications (even games) that you use!
- Be very careful when using peer-to-peer file sharing programs, viruses are easily spread on these types of services.
- Make sure to scan all downloads with an anti-virus program before installing.
- Don’t install any software or programs unless they are from a source you trust.
Just in case:
Don’t forget to regularly back up all of your important files. If you do happen to get a virus, even after following all of these helpful tips, you may need to do a system reset on your device to remove a virus. Backing up files ensures your important documents will not be lost if this must be done.
Creating Secure Passwords
Passwords safeguard your information, so set one that is easy to remember yet complicated enough to foil most security attacks. Here is how to strengthen your passwords.
- Mix numbers and punctuation while using both capital and lowercase letters.
- Spell numbers or substitute letters for similar characters.
- Stray from using obvious dictionary words or combinations of dictionary words.
- Use abbreviations of a longer phrase to better remember (e.g. ilbwR! for “I love banking with Raiz!”)
- Choose at least eight characters (if allowed).
- Change your password at least every 90 days.
- Do not use key dates, numbers, or any other easily guessable information about yourself (e.g. your birthday, address, telephone number, license plate number, hometown, or social security number).
- Do not use common keyboard sequences such as qwerty, 123456, and asdfg.
- Do not use “password” as your password.
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