Security Tips in a Pandemic

The pandemic has made our computing devices more crucial than ever. The average laptop computer or mobile device has become a classroom, a grocery store, and a primary means of communication. However, these tools have also become a primary means for cybercriminals to steal Personal Identifiable Information (PII) such as Social Security Numbers, Driver’s License numbers, even credit card or Passport information. 

Here are some tips to protect your personal information and your identity as the pandemic continues. 

  • Lock the digital door: One of the best things a person can do to protect their personal information is also the easiest.  Use a complex password.  A password of at least 12 characters long with a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols is the combination to the safe that is your personal information.  Just as important as a complex password is avoiding password re-use.  It can be very tempting to use that same complex password for Netflix and a credit card account, but that is tempting fate. There are various free and affordably priced password managers to assist a user in creating complex passwords for every account.  Combine complex and unique passwords with 2-factor or multi-factor authentication for enhanced security. 
  • It is a video conference world: Users attend everything from classes to family get-togethers online. Often, these virtual encounters are uneventful.  But it is advisable to consider privacy during any online call or conference. Things to consider on any online chat or meeting include – who can join the call? Is the call be recorded, and if so, does everyone aware?  Will chat sessions be saved and shared with others later?   When on a video call, it is advisable to blur or add a background to hide a location or the general surroundings. 
  • Please beware of the tech support scam: It is distinctly possible technology has never been as vital as it is under the current conditions, and, sadly, cybercriminals understand that fact. Users may get a phone call, email, or even a text message from a scammer suggesting they are from Microsoft or a software company.  The scammer will indicate they have discovered a user’s device is infected with malware or another issue and require access to the device and a credit card number to resolve the issue. If a call like that is received, it is best to simply hang up and ignore the caller.