Here, what you need to know to take control of your personal information security.
As soon as I got off the phone with security expert Robert Siciliano, I took his advice.
I updated my MacBook Air operating system. All it took was hitting a couple of keys and letting the download finish.
But of course I’d been putting it off.
My personal motto: if it’s not a must, let it rust.
Siciliano is the opposite.
He not only stays on top of everything, he anticipates trouble and takes all necessary measures to avoid it.
He advises the rest of us to do the same.
“There’s bad guys everywhere,” he insists. “They live and function among us. But a lot of people think nothing is going to happen to them. They say, ‘I don’t want to be paranoid.’
“But taking control of personal security and information security is not a sign of mental illness. It’s like wearing your seat belt.”
As for OS systems, he warns, “Keep them and all software updated. Pay attention to update pop-ups. It’s critical for functionality and security.”
Updates often provide increased security, he explains, and just as with cars, things run better when they’re refreshed.
“Cars wear out so occasionally you put in new brakes, get a new set of tires, change the oil. Otherwise, they can become safety and security hazards. It’s the same with software. Make use of the updates provided.”
Siciliano works for AnchorFree (anchorfree.com) which offers free and premium hotspot shields that provide privacy protection, Wi-Fi security, anonymous web browsing and Wi-Fi security.
MORE SAFETY TIPS
More advice from Siciliano about protecting yourself:
* Do check your credit card statements and check them twice. “Make sure they are clear of fraudulent charges. You can look at them everyday on your mobile and get alerts every time a charge is made.”
* Do log into the shipper’s website when you’ve ordered something online and get alerts about when the package is supposed to arrive. “People steal things. Make sure everything is insured. Put up a security camera at the entrance to your property. Cameras are a good deterrent when it comes to bad guys.”
* Don’t follow links in the body of emails from banks or credit cards. Instead, go directly to your bank site or credit card site. “If you get an email about your bank statement, ignore the link provided and go directly to the website to check it out.”
* Don’t follow links in an email for a product or service unless you’re positive it’s legitimate. “Bad guys send out deals that are too good to be true. Too often, if someone says ‘Click on this,’ we click on it.” If a company is advertising a sale, you should be able to go to their website to get it without using the link.
* Do consider downloading the free McAfee program — SiteAdvisor — that let’s you determine whether a site is good or bad. “It helps consumers navigate the web safely.”
* Don’t post anything on social media that tells people where you are. “It’s nuts to let the world know when you’re not home. That’s inviting burglars.” Instead, post pictures of your travels after you get home. “I will not post any information on the web that would alert anyone to my whereabouts at any time.”
* Don’t post personal information. “I only post professional stuff, not personal stuff about me or my family. * Why give bad guys access to my family? Besides, a 5-year old can’t give permission to be shown to the world.”
* Do shred everything. “I fill up a crate and let the kids shred.”
* Do “make sure all your devices are password protected so if they’re lost or stolen nobody has access to your information.”