There are many ways we use technology — from desktop computers and laptops, to tablets, smartphones or smartwatches. And unfortunately, all of these devices pose security risks. It’s important to understand these risks and the steps you can take to reduce your risk of a data privacy breach. Following are five tips to ensure your private, personal information remains secure.
1. Install Updates
No matter the device, cyber criminals will always try to find an easy way to hack into them. Every device runs an operating system. Make sure you are always on the most recent operating system by updating your software when you see the option pop up on your screen. Some updates are automatic, while others require you to approve or schedule it. Updates to your operating system ensure that you have the most recent protection against security flaws.
2. Password-Protect your Information
It’s important to use a password to get into your system, even on a mobile device. If your device is not password protected, there is a higher likelihood that your personal information can be compromised.
In addition to using a passcode on your mobile device and/or password to access your computer, multi-factor authentication will provide further protection. Multi-factor authentication works by requiring two forms of identification to access a system. For example, after typing password to log in to an application, the application prompts for additional verification, such as a code sent to your mobile device via text message. You will have to provide both your password and the verification code to log into the application to ensure that you are who you say you are. This type of multi-factor authentication exists on both desktop and mobile devices.
3. Only Install Apps from Trusted Sources and Restrict App Access
Unique to mobile devices are apps. While there are thousands of mobile apps, some are more secure than others. Both the Apple Store (for Apple devices) and the Google Play Store (for Android devices) conduct security checks on all apps before they are made available for download. However, Android allows users to download apps from other sources. We highly recommend not downloading these apps. Cyber criminals can easily create and distribute mobile apps that can infect your mobile devices and steal your data.
Further, many apps collect unnecessary information from your device, such as access to track your location or access to your contact list, microphone, camera and often even your photos. When you enable these permissions, it may allow the creator of the app to share or sell that information to others which can leave you at risk of losing your personal information. Restricting applications from accessing your data and deleting any unnecessary apps will keep your device most secure.
4. Beware of Phishing Attempts
Phishing emails remain the largest cause of a data breach. Every individual with an email account has likely received an email that appears as though it comes from a legitimate source, but it is truly an impersonation from a cybercriminal. These emails are known as phishing emails and cybercriminals are hoping to trick you into clicking on them and supplying passwords, credit card information or other personal information they can use against you.
Whenever a phishing email is opened and a malicious link or attachment is clicked, there is a risk of a data breach. Email threats can be received on any device, so it’s important to second guess the authenticity of any email you receive before clicking on it — and especially before opening any attachments!
5. Farm Credit Connect — another tool to keep your data secure
Farm Credit East recently launched a modernized customer portal. In addition to providing customers access to their information when and where they want it — Farm Credit Connect also aims to keep that information secure using the most modern security standards. Through Farm Credit Connect, confidential documents and other communication never leave Farm Credit East’s secure walls unless authorized by you, the customer.
Additionally, Farm Credit Connect allows customers to opt to receive their billing statements and other cooperative materials electronically, which is just another way to keep your information secure.
Already a Farm Credit Connect user? Login now.
Please note that if you previously had a FarmCreditEast.com account, your existing login transferred to Farm Credit Connect.
Follow the same login link above and select to create an account. Please note that Farm Credit Connect is only for customers of Farm Credit East.
It’s imperative to stay knowledgeable on the ways we know to protect ourselves and our data. We are ultimately the best defense at detecting and stopping threats to our data privacy by making informed decisions to protect ourselves, our information and our devices. So, what’s our best advice to you? Stay alert, stay-up-to-date, and think before you click!