Cybersecurity tips for protecting yourself at home
From identity theft to personal information getting into the wrong hands, there are many reasons to take cybersecurity seriously. Cyber-attackers often take advantage of high-profile events that leave people worried or emotionally vulnerable, so it makes sense that they've been heavily active during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you're working from home or just spending more time there than usual, now is a good time to take some simple measures to protect your family's technology and keep your personal information secure.
Protect yourself against phishing scams
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been more email and text scams going around. Scammers are trying to trick people into clicking on malicious attachments or links in an effort to steal their personal information or gain access to their networks and devices. Some scammers are posing as credible sources like the World Health Organization and other government or public health agencies, and others are asking for donations for Canadians affected by the pandemic in an attempt to steal banking information. This type of scam is known as phishing. Keep these tips in mind to avoid falling for a phishing scam:
- When you receive an email or text, make sure you know the sender before opening any links or attachments (check the 'from' email address, not just the username)
- Make sure any linked address or attachment is relevant to the content of the email
- If you weren't expecting an attachment or link, reply to the sender to confirm it's something that's safe to open
- Look for typos in the email or text message — especially in the sender's email address or username, or in any linked URL
- Use trusted anti-virus or anti-malware software on your computer and other devices to protect them from attempted attacks
- Learn more about the signs of phishing scams so you're better equipped to protect yourself
Protect yourself against other potential cybersecurity threats
Besides phishing scams, there are several other ways cyber-attackers can try to get access to your personal information or sensitive data related to your work. If you're working from home, be sure to carefully follow any security and privacy guidelines provided by your employer. If possible, you should also avoid using your work computer for personal activities or using your personal computer for work. Whether you're working from home or not, consider these tips, too:
- Run any necessary updates for each internet-connected device and app to make sure you have the latest security updates provided by the manufacturer
- Protect your home's wireless router with a secure, complex password so people without the password can't access your Wi-Fi network
- Delete apps you aren't using, as they could be used to gather personal information
- Make sure all of your passwords for devices and online accounts are complex and unique, and use a different password for every account
- Whenever possible, use two-factor authentication on online accounts and devices for an extra layer of security
- Never enter personal information (especially banking or credit card numbers) on a website unless you can verify it's secure
- Take these additional steps to secure your smart home devices (like smart fridges, thermostats, and TVs)
For more information on how to stay cyber-secure during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, check out these helpful tips from the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security.
Sometimes cyber-attacks happen, despite your best efforts to keep your technology secure — and that's why many home, condo, and tenant insurance policies include coverage for some of the expenses that come with personal identity theft. While specific coverage varies, it can include things like legal fees, sending certified mail, and lost wages for days you had to take time off work to deal with the issue. To learn how your own policy could protect you if you experience identity theft, reach out to your licensed home insurance broker today.
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