10 Cyber Security Tips for Staying Safe Online

For those who love crisp fall weather and apple picking, this is the best time of the year. It’s also the perfect time to do an online security checkup: October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, which was established between industry and government to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and provide people with the resources they need to stay safe online. 

From writing emails to online banking to chatting with friends, we use the internet for virtually everything we do — which means we’re all more at risk from cyber attacks than ever. According to a recent Forbes article, cybercriminals are even starting to find ways around multi-factor authentication. While you might want to consider investing in cyber insurance in the event of a data breach, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to protecting your personal data. 

Here are our top ten cyber security tips for staying safe online.

1. Create strong passwords. Whenever a website you frequent prompts you to update your password, do so immediately. Use phrases or sentences so they’re complex enough to meet requirements but still easy for you to remember. If you have a hard time keeping track of them all, consider using a password manager.

2. Change usernames frequently. While usernames may not seem as important as passwords, they do act as gateways to your information, which cybercriminals can use. Update them often and try not to reuse them between websites. Also, remember to change usernames often and don’t reuse old ones.

3. Be careful using public wifi. Maybe you’re traveling and want to use the airport’s free wifi, or you’re camped out at your favorite coffee shop with your laptop. Do you really have to check your bank account balance right this second — or could it wait until you have access to a private network? Public wifi is more susceptible to security issues, so it may be worth it to wait.

4. Disable Bluetooth and auto-connect while traveling. When your phone is set to connect automatically to available wifi networks, or if you always have Bluetooth enabled, people in close proximity to you have more opportunities to hack into your device. Disable these features and then turn them back once you have access to a secure internet connection.

5. Install updates to software and apps. Don’t ignore those prompts that pop up on your phone or computer telling you that a software update is available. In fact, the sooner you install them, the better: keeping your devices’ operating systems up to date can help protect your data, patch security holes, and remove computer bugs.

6. Use anti-virus software. It’s always a good idea to have anti-virus protection installed on your computer from a reputable brand — even if it’s a free version or the most basic package. 

7. Think before you click. If something looks suspicious for any reason — whether it’s an unrecognizable email address, a URL that contains spelling mistakes, or a strange attachment — chances are it could be a phishing scam. Look closely at the email address before you open it, and verify the source of the message or before hitting “reply.”

8. Don’t overshare on social media. Because social media is designed for sharing, this can be challenging; however, you need to think carefully about what you post, and check your privacy settings. Cybercriminals can use sensitive information you put out on these platforms to decipher your answers to common security questions.

9. Lock all your devices. Utilize the security settings on your tablet, laptop, and smartphone. This could be a fingerprint ID, a PIN number, or a combination of both, and will make it impossible or at least more difficult for someone to unlock your device if it’s lost or stolen.

10. Back everything up. If a data breach does happen, the last thing you want is to lose important documents or precious photos. Make sure you back up data regularly on your preferred cloud platform or an external drive. 

No one wants to think about what might happen if your information is compromised, but if you’re proactive, then you won’t have to. Taking preventive measures against cyberattacks is always recommended, and cyber insurance is a great way to add an extra layer of protection. Call a Doherty agent today to learn how we can help you safeguard your personal data and discuss your options for cyber insurance. 



Doherty Insurance Agency
21 Elm Street
Andover, MA. 01810
Telephone: 978-475-0260
Fax: 978-475-0303