Four Ways to Protect Yourself from Cyber Crime

Cyber Crime

Between work projects, ordering groceries, paying bills, and keeping in touch with friends on social media, most of us spend a lot of time online. While the Internet can make life so much more convenient, it can also expose us to cyber criminals trying to steal our money or our personal information.

Reducing the chance that you’ll be impacted by cybercrime doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In honor of Cyber Security Awareness Month, here are four ways you can stay cyber safe, courtesy of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Follow these procedures at home and at work. And see below if your small business needs cyber insurance!

Choose strong passwords and use a password manager.  Avoid using simple passwords like 12345, or personal details like birthdays or pets’ names. This information is easy for hackers to discover, leaving you vulnerable to breaches. CISA recommends passwords be long (at least 16 characters), random (mix letters, numbers, and symbols, or use a memorable phrase), and unique—one for every account.

Worried about remembering all those passwords? Use a password manager—a program that stores your passwords and automatically fills them in when you log on. Then all you need to remember is your password for the password manager! Check Consumer Reports, PC Mag, or CNET for advice and recommendations for a reputable password manager.

    Use multifactor authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication or two-step authentication. This means whenever you log in, you’ll be required to have a second method of proving who you are—perhaps a numeric code sent to you by text or email, an authenticator app or use of biometrics (fingerprint or face recognition). Often, you’ll find this option under Account Settings & Privacy or similar. Turn it on every chance you get, especially for banking info, online purchases or bill paying, email, social media.

    Recognize and report phishing. Phishing refers to when criminals attempt to access your computers or personal information by getting you to open harmful emails, links, or attachments. The emails or links often appear to be from someone or some organization that you know and trust. They often use urgency and/or an appeal to emotion as tactics to get you to click. Watch for incorrect or shortened email addresses, links or URLs (“amazan” instead of amazon, for instance). They may also request personal or financial information. DO NOT click on any links or attachments including the “unsubscribe” button. Report them as spam, block the sender, and delete the message.

    Keep software updated. This is the simplest of all the tips. Check for updates regularly when you log on, or, better yet, sign up for automatic updates. Updates often include security patches for known weaknesses, as well as features to improve performance and fix bugs. If you choose to download updates yourself, make sure they’re from your device’s app store. Don’t respond to random pop-up windows on websites you visit.

    Need cyber insurance?

    If you own a small business that uses or stores the personal information of clients, you should consider buying cyber insurance. Cyber insurance protects your liability in case of data breach, loss or corruption of data, identity theft, cyber extortion, and more. It’s one more way you can protect your business from the unexpected.

    Please call an L & M Insurance Group agent at 813-672-4100 if you have any questions about cyber insurance, or any of your personal or commercial insurance needs. L & M Insurance Group is a full-service, independent insurance agency, serving Tampa, Brandon, Riverview, Valrico and surrounding communities. (Click here if you’d prefer to contact us online.)

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