What do home security systems, Wi-Fi enabled thermostats, gaming consoles, and smart TV’s (not to mention cell phones and tablets) all have in common?

Answer – an internet connection.

As the popularity of these devices increases, so does our dependency on the internet. With a stronger connection to the internet comes, you guessed it, greater risk.

Here are some ways to protect yourself while taking advantage of the latest and greatest:

  1. Trust your initial instinct. Sometimes cyber attackers gain access to your information by simply asking for it. If messages or phone calls seem off, suspicious or too good to be true, it may be an attack. For example, if someone calls you from “Microsoft Tech Support” out of the blue claiming that your computer is infected they may really be a cyber criminal.
  2. Secure your accounts and passwords. Always use long passwords or passphrases that are not easily guessable. Try to use different passwords for different accounts/devices. Always opt to use two-step authentication when available (secret questions and fingerprint).
  3. Don’t share too much. Think about what you’re sharing on social media. Only post what you want the public to see.
  4. Secure your home network. Your Wi-Fi router controls who can connect to your wireless network at home. Configure the settings so that a password is needed to join and be sure to use a strong password that only you know.
  5. Protect your individual devices. Create PINs or passwords to access all devices and be sure that you’re always running the latest version of software. Before getting rid of any device, make sure they are wiped of all personal information (utilize a reset option).
  6. Limit internet access for children. Whether you utilize separate devices or different accounts, be sure to set restrictions on internet access for children.

What if you still get hacked?

No matter how careful you are, there is still a chance you may be hacked. In the event that it does happen:

  • Create regular backups of your personal information. If one of your devices is hacked the only way to recover all of your data may be from backups.
  • If it is an online account that is compromised you should immediately log in and change the password to something stronger like a passphrase. If you no longer have access, contact the company.
  • Monitor your credit cards and credit report. A lot of credit card companies now offer free credit monitoring services. If you see any changes you didn’t make yourself contact the company right away.

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