In today’s digital atmosphere, paying for things online is commonplace. Smart consumers focus on taking steps to keep their personal and financial information private and secure when conducting online transactions. Businesses that offer online payment transactions must also be diligent with their Internet payment technology and ensure their customers feel confident in submitting information.
Based on cyber security experts’ research and recommendations, we’ve compiled the five key principles for a sound, solid data security plan. Use these fundamental best practices to help guide you as you review, create, or implement a strategy for keeping personal information secure online.
Protecting Computer Systems
Online security starts with your computer. It is best to send your personal information and personal data through one machine only. This machine should be your own personal property and not a public computer housed at a university or library. To better protect your computer, install anti-virus software and programs that find and delete spyware. Make sure you are regularly updating your security software so you do not lose your level of protection when going online.
Creating Strong Passwords
If you use the Internet for banking, making payments and purchasing items for yourself or your business, in most cases, you need to log in with a password. This is why it’s imperative to create strong, secure passwords for any online platform that requires one. It should not be something that is easily figured out, such as a birthday or your home address. Choose a variety of secret passwords for your accounts. Security experts recommend passwords be a combination of numbers, letters and symbols to make them more difficult to figure out.
Securing Wireless Networks
When you go online each day, use your own Internet connection. Securing your wireless network is an absolute MUST! Make sure you take time to set up your wireless router before you begin using it to browse the Internet or check email. Leaving your network open without a password could attract other users to connect to your network and access your information. When you are out in public, avoid connecting to public networks to conduct business transactions or submit personal information.
Safe Browsing & “Trusted Sites”
Internet users must also be aware of the websites they use. Almost any person could theoretically set up a website and online store, making it easy for users to submit payment information. What you should look for are HTTPS sites, which indicates that it’s web encrypted – meaning it’s a secure, “trusted site“. Additionally, when submitting payments, be sure to look for added authentication services that give your personal financial details an extra layer of security.
Smart File-Sharing & Downloading
The last, but not least, most important online safety and security tip is to be careful when downloading files. Do not open emails from unfamiliar senders, and never download files from someone you do not know. Doing so could open your computer up to spam or a virus attack. Many of these attacks are designed to steal your personal or financial information. Be careful when clicking on links from an email, even if you recognize the website. Online phishers sometimes mimic the look of popular sites to steal your financial details.
As technology gets even more advanced, Internet users need to take steps to keep their information protected. Businesses and consumers should always follow the recommended safety precautions to keep personal information safe and private.
Improving cyber security is not a one-time solution. It’s a journey – for everyone alike. And like any journey, it starts with taking steps toward becoming more cyber aware through education and training. Only collective efforts will lead to the cyber security culture we need.