Even small steps help
More pro tips:
1. Take pains to keep your email address private; share it only with those who need it. You might want to route nonessential senders to an email account set up for junk.
2. Limit the incoming communications for which you sign up, since a less cluttered inbox will make it easier to detect sketchy emails — which you should ignore, delete and consider flagging to your email provider.
3. If you receive a suspicious, unsolicited email, don’t hit “unsubscribe,” since you could signal a bad actor that the email used to respond is valid and active, Anscombe says.
4. Be careful what you share with merchants. If asked for your birthday to receive a gift or discount, pick a random date, Velasquez says.
5. Never share an authentication code sent to you. It’s only for your use, but cybercrooks will invent excuses to wrest it from you, she warns.
6. Use antivirus security software and perform security updates as required.
7. When visiting a website, look for the lock next to the domain name displayed by your browser, Budd says. It’s like a website’s driver’s license. Click on the lock to ensure the site is what it says it is. If, say, you want to visit macys.com, don’t make a purchase if what’s behind the lock says something unusual, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. When online shopping, consider checking out as a guest, and think twice about having a vendor store your payment information. Anscombe at ESET never lets a merchant store his credit card information. “I type it in — it’s a 16-digit number,” he says. “Don’t leave your data laying all over the internet, because that’s in fact what you’re doing.”
9. Ask for help from a trusted person or entity if cybersecurity measures are a challenge. And if doing it all seems overwhelming, Velasquez urges taking baby steps, since “even if you make small changes, you are making a difference.”