The Internet is fertile territory for criminals who devise devious methods to exploit and steal from unsuspecting Web users. But by taking these five important precautions, you can help to keep your finances and personal information safe.
Use passwords effectively. Don’t share passwords or keep them in plain view. Avoid common words, names, and birthdays of family and friends. Use a combination of letters and numbers in both upper and lower case. Change your password every 90 days and consider using a different password for each of your online accounts.
Secure your browser and email applications. Check the Tools or Options menus for built-in security and privacy features. Regularly update security software patches. Filter spam out of your email inbox. Never open an attachment or click on a link in an email from an unknown sender.
Install protective software. Turn on automatic updating to download the most recent virus “antidotes.” Put up a firewall that blocks hackers from tampering with your information.
Beware of “phishing.” Never respond to an email requiring that you update or validate account information under threat of dire consequences. No legitimate company would make this request. Instead, forward the email to email@example.com and report it to the company being impersonated.