How to Protect Your Online Information

 

These days, it’s especially important to be careful with your online activity. Recent headlines have shown data breaches occurring at various organizations across the world, and cybersecurity is becoming a huge issue for users. While we don’t really think about our information getting stolen every day, we should be wary of basic pitfalls.

As a university with access to private information and data, Georgetown has to be careful with its online security. This is why we have to change our passwords frequently and protect our information. This past week, University Information Services (UIS) sent out an e-mail under a fake name with a generic request for contact information.

Students should never click on links or download any software from unfamiliar and unknown sources. You can always check with UIS to confirm whether an e-mail request is legitimate. This time, UIS was simply having a bit of fun and conducting a test.

If you clicked on the link, nothing harmful happened to your computer, but remember that in the future, it’s possible that you won’t get as lucky. Here are a few ways to keep yourself protected from online threats:

1. Never Click on Suspicious Links

Whether you received a funny looking e-mail or clicked on a hyperlink that requires you to download specific software, always think twice before clicking on it. Does the sender seem fake? Does the e-mail have any odd links or improper grammar? If you answered yes to any of these questions, consider marking the e-mail as spam.

2. Always Check Your Account Statements

Before you pay your monthly credit card bills, glance over the account statements for your history of transactions.Make sure you're also checking your debit card statements. If an expense appears on your statement that you don’t remember charging, investigate it to make sure that it was actually you who authorized that payment. If you find that it wasn’t you, call your bank or credit card service provider immediately to notify them of the unauthorized use of your card. They will ensure that you don’t pay that charge and send you a new card with different account information for your protection.

3. Use Secured Wi-Fi

We always feel great when we are offered free Wi-Fi at a hotel or a coffee shop, but we need to be careful with unsecured wireless connections. If you don’t have proper security on an online network, you should be careful about entering sensitive information, such as a credit card number or a social security number. You can read about more ways to secure your online presence here.

While new apps and wireless services have made our lives easier, there are definitely precautionary steps we should take to secure our online presence. As long as we remain vigilant, we can avoid common mistakes that the average user makes.