So much of modern life takes place online, from grocery shopping to banking, keeping in touch with loved ones and more. Online services offer great convenience, but unfortunately, some risks come with using the internet, thanks to scammers and hackers looking to take advantage of people at every turn.

Luckily, you can take some basic steps while using the internet to protect yourself from fraudsters and keep your information and accounts safe.

Start with antivirus software

A good first step for safely surfing the web is to install antivirus software on your computer and keep it up to date. These programs work in the background, keeping an eye out for potential threats as you use the internet and protect you from them. Turn on the auto-update feature to ensure that they’re always running their best.

Switch up your passwords

Creating secure passwords is a crucial part of staying safe online. Don’t repeat the same password on different websites, and make sure that you include letters, numbers and special symbols, to make it more difficult to guess. You should also change them from time to time in case they’ve been compromised, and you don’t know it.

Access sensitive information in private

Public computers in libraries or recreation centers can be handy, but don’t access personal accounts, pay bills or shop from a shared computer. You never know who has access to these computers and what kinds of spyware or other threats are present with a public machine. Keep any activity that requires you to enter credit card numbers or additional sensitive information to your personal computer in the safety of your home.

Be smart about email

Scammers love to use email to get personal information about their targets. They’ve become skilled at mimicking reputable companies like cellphone providers and banks and tricking people into providing confidential information. These tactics are known as “phishing” and are increasingly common, but you can protect yourself by staying alert about which emails you open and when you provide personal information over the internet. If you receive an unsolicited email, even one that looks official, requesting any kind of personal information, ignore it and, if possible, flag it as spam in your inbox before deleting it.

Advertising

Be careful with social media

Social media is an excellent way to stay in touch with people and share our lives with those we may not see all the time. But scammers can also use information you share on social media to gain access to your accounts and information. Be cautious about what you share on social media. Also, be wary of things like quizzes that ask you to give the name of your childhood pet, street name, mother’s maiden name or another piece of information that you may have used to establish an account elsewhere.

Double up authentication

Multiple-factor authentication is increasingly common, especially for accessing sensitive information or accounts. Multiple-factor authentication uses a combination of devices to ensure it’s really you trying to log into your account. For example, you might have to enter a password to access something online, and the site will then send a text message to your phone with a code that you must also enter. This extra layer of identification keeps information safe by requiring more than just a simple password.

The internet is interwoven with our everyday life with all kinds of activities and transactions taking place there every day. While scammers and hackers are looking to take advantage of honest internet users, you can safely use the internet. A little bit of vigilance and extra precaution are all that’s needed to keep you and your information safe.

Finances FYI is presented by 1st Security Bank.

At 1st Security Bank of Washington, we take a customized and personal approach to your financial well-being. We live in the communities we serve, so our branches offer tailored solutions to their communities. We believe relationships make the difference, and that sets 1st Security Bank apart.