Internet Safety for the Holidays

Electronic devices are certain to be at the top of most wish lists this holiday season. With so many things connecting to the internet, it’s important to keep your sensitive data safe from the growing numbers of internet predators.

The National Cyber Security Alliance, in coordination with the FBI and Homeland Security, offers these tips to stay safer and more secure on your home network and when using public Wi-Fi networks.

Use Antivirus Software and Firewall Protection

While this may seem obvious by now, these fundamental safeguards can be turned off, out of date, or expired. Be sure enable updates on all your apps and operating systems (automatic is best) and keep your subscription current. Many service providers include security products as part of their package, either free or at a discount. Antivirus and other security products are also available separately. Just be sure you have them installed, up to date, and functioning.

Use Strong Passwords

While they may be harder to remember, strong passwords are the best protection against hackers. The best passwords contain a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols like #, $, %, and =. They should be at least seven characters in length, and longer is better. If you’re concerned with remembering them, use a password manager, available online.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a method of confirming a user's identity where access is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of information. Some websites require it (banks, for instance), but many devices like phones only have it as an option. Besides text, other authentication options include facial recognition and fingerprint matching.

Only Shop on Secure Sites

To protect your sensitive data, only shop on sites with secure connections that encrypt or otherwise guard transactions. Secure sites have a closed padlock in the status bar and the URL will start with https:// instead of simply http://.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks

Public Wi-Fi networks (coffee shops, rec centers, etc.) can be accessed by anyone, and with the right tools and knowledge, anyone can steal data you send over them. Some public spaces may have secure Wi-Fi hotspots that encrypt data on their network, but don’t take it for granted. Your internet supplier may have a list of secure hotspots, but if you’re not sure, it’s better to wait for a known secure connection than risk having your data stolen.

Stick to a Single Credit Card

If you limit your shopping to a single credit card, you can cut it off immediately if you suspect trouble. Don’t use a debit card. Unlike credit cards, debit cards connect directly to your bank account and funds are withdrawn immediately.

Don’t Click on Unknown Links or Email Attachments

Links, attachments, and even pictures can have malicious connections that can infect your devices and network. Only open files and links from trusted sources and not even then if the link seems suspicious. Email addresses can be stolen or cloned, so it’s best to verify any links or attachments before opening them. Ads and other commercial messages can be accessed via the company’s regular website, so don’t open a link in an email unless you’re certain it’s legit.

Stay Safe and Be Happy

The holidays are a time for joy, so don’t risk your happiness by being careless online.

Connectivity is essential in modern homes and offices and Allstar Electrical Serviceshas the expertise and experience to install or upgrade your home or business network safely and securely.

If you need to add or change a home network, call Allstar Electrical at (303) 399-7420 or visit our website. Then use our handy on-line forms to request an estimate or set up an appointment. We’ve served the Front Range for over 15 years and are top-rated by the BBB.