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How to Protect Yourself Online

February 10, 2023 3 min

Thanks to computers and mobile devices, we have a world of knowledge available at our fingertips, but the same devices can also make us incredibly vulnerable to fraud. Here are some tips to help you protect yourself online.

Did you know?

KYPIP stands for Keep Your Personal Information Private. Patelco respects your privacy and security and will never ask you for your online banking User ID and password; one-time passcodes for transactions, registrations, or login; your card PIN; security code; or full card number.

Keep your devices and software up to date

Outdated electronics can give attackers access to your device through security weaknesses, making you more susceptible to ransomware attacks and viruses. Updates from Apple, Microsoft, Google and the like do more than just add features. They also provide security updates to keep your data safe.

To ensure you have the latest security features:

  • Turn on automatic system updates for your devices, including your computer, tablet and phone.
  • Turn on automatic updates for software and apps.
  • Periodically check your devices and software for updates. If you don’t have the latest version, update.

Use strong passwords

Passwords are the most common form of account authentication, but they must be complex and confidential to keep your information private. Use the following tips to come up with strong passwords and keep them secure.

  • Use different passwords on different systems and accounts
  • Create the longest password or passphrase — a random combination of words, numbers and symbols — allowed
  • Don’t use passwords based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed
  • Avoid words that can be found in any dictionary, no matter what language
  • Try a mnemonic to help you remember a complex password — for example, your password could be “LMMsoat” for “Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet”
  • Use a highly secure password manager to track your passwords or write them in a book that you hide at home; never keep a list of passwords on your computer
  • Change passwords for important accounts (banks, credit cards, etc.) every three months
  • If you received an alert about a data breach from an online organization, immediately review your account and change the password

Enable multi-factor authentication

For the accounts you use the most, check the security settings for the option to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) or two-factor authentication (2FA). When you use MFA or 2FA, you’ll need to provide at least two pieces of evidence to prove your identity for access to your account. This may include:

  • your password
  • biometric identification (like a fingerprint or Face ID)
  • a verification code (MFA or 2FA) that you receive via text message, phone call, or an app like Authy or Google Authenticator

MFA helps increase online security because even if one credential becomes compromised, unauthorized users will be unable to meet the second authentication requirement, blocking them from accessing your information. Many MFA implementations also have time limits and expirations, making it even more difficult for a bad actor to access your account.

Deep clean your social media

Social media is full of information about you. Purge your accounts of any personal information you wouldn’t want a stranger or thief to have — anything from your home address, employer details or email addresses to photos of vacations and birthdays.

The main problem with vacation photos, at least if you share them while on vacation, is that they tell the entire world that you’re not at home – this can leave your accounts more vulnerable since fraudsters know that you may be less likely to check your accounts, or that you have a travel notification set for your accounts, all information that can be exploited.

Regarding birthdays, some scammers and identity thieves can wreak havoc with just your name, date of birth (DOB), and address. So if a fraudster already knows your name and address, posting information about your DOB on social media gives them the final piece of information they need to attempt fraud or identity theft.

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