24 May 5 Ways to Prevent Cybercrime | Chandler, AZ
In our previous post we discussed the major types of cybercrime and how they are defined in Arizona. As a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix, Todd Coolidge argues cases involving cybercrime. But it’s always our desire to fight for justice and a better community, and the prevention of cybercrime contributes to everyone’s well-being. Because cybercrime has never been as prevalent as it is today, we’d like to offer tips on how to avoid becoming a victim and prevent cybercrime.
Tips on How to Prevent Cybercrime
We live in a digital age, and that means that each one of us must accept responsibility for our own safety and security online. But in order to do this, we must know where our vulnerabilities lie and how we can be proactive about protecting our online presence.
1. Use strong passwords
We’ve all probably have heard the importance of using unique passwords that are difficult to hack, but with the number of sites that require passwords, it can be difficult to remember every password and keep track of which password was used on each site. However, according to a sobering CNN report in late 2017, Google disclosed that 250,000 logins were hacked each week–yes, each week! That number has most likely increased in the last year and a half.
There are a few simple—albeit slightly inconvenient—ways that will increase the odds your passwords won’t get hacked:
- Change your passwords annually
- Make your passwords long—15 characters or more
- Use a variety of cases, numbers and symbols
- Avoid obvious personal information: birthdays, addresses, pet names, alma maters or nicknames
- Do not reuse passwords for multiple sites
- Use a password manager that creates, stores and encrypts unique passwords (try one of these)
2. Keep an open eye for email/internet scams
Scams come in an endless variety of ways, but they all have one thing in common: they want money or personal information. In today’s age, it’s safe to assume that any unsolicited email, phone call, website, or pop-up window that asks for personal information is a scam, unless the website is secured. How do I know if a website is secure, you ask? There are two indicators: 1.) the URL starts with https (not http—the “s” stands for secure); and 2.) some websites go to the degree of getting an extended validation, which will appear as a green bar and lock icon in the address bar.
Ways to avoid common online scams:
- Delete unsolicited emails
- Make sure your firewall is activated (Mac; PC)
- Don’t click on suspicious links
- Don’t believe or respond to promises of money or prizes
- Never disclose sensitive personal information to a stranger or untrusted site
- Question requests for donations
3. Be smart on social media
Social media platforms are growing faster than their ability to accommodate safe and secure usage. If you were following the news in early 2018, Facebook had a HUGE privacy scandal where Cambridge Analytica gained unconsented access to harvest millions of accounts private data. So, how do you protect against this kind of data breach and other much smaller breaches?
First things first; always make sure your social media profiles are set to private. This ensures that strangers cannot get easy access to your personal information.
Other ways to stay safe on social media:
- Use strong passwords
- Password protect your mobile device
- Click links with caution
- Don’t reveal sensitive personal information
- Customize your privacy settings
- Logoff when you’re done
4. Keep operating systems and software up-to-date
Prevent viruses from infecting your computer by setting your software and operating systems to auto-update. You probably keep a good deal of private/personal information on your computer: tax returns, budgets, personal emails, etc. Patching holes or security issues with software on a regular basis will ensure this information does not get into the wrong hands. In addition, consider downloading an antivirus/malware software. You can run scans regularly and be alerted to suspicious files or applications on your computer.
5. Store sensitive data on an external hard drive
Lastly, since much of our lives now exist on hard drives or in clouds, consider storing your most sensitive information on an external hard drive. So whether your computer gets hacked or simply breaks, you have a copy of your most important data. Always have a strong password installed to access your computer. And consider encrypting the files you do save and store on your hard drive.
Prevention is often the best way to avoid becoming a victim of a crime. Not all crime can be prevented, but using caution can lower the risk. And if you’ve been convicted of a crime in Arizona, contact Coolidge Law Firm for your best criminal defense.