Video and Media

Computer Security (Video)

There’s a lot you can do to protect yourself and your computer from scammers, hackers, and identity thieves. Start by keeping your computer software up-to-date.

Every day, you hear about scammers, hackers, and thieves…

…trying to use the internet to steal your money and your financial information.

The fact is– you, me—we—can foil many of their attempts. Every day we do things to make it tough for bad guys to break into our homes and our cars. We can make it tougher for them to break into our computers, too.

Here are some way to foil a hacker and protect your financial information:

1. Install security software on your computer.

Well-known companies offer plenty of free options.

Set the software to update automatically so it can deal with any new security threats.

While you’re at it, set your operating system and web browser to update automatically, too.

If you’re not sure how, use the help function and search for “automatic updates”.

If you get a phone call, an email, a text, or a popup that says your computer has a virus or malware, don’t buy the story--

--or the security software they’re selling. It could be a trick…

… to get you to buy software that’s worthless, or even harmful.

2. Treat your financial information like cash. It’s a hot commodity. If someone asks for your financial information--

--say your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number—ask why they need it and how they’re going to protect it.

3. If you think you’ve found a good deal online,

But you aren’t familiar with the company,

Dig a little deeper.

A quick internet search with the name of the company…

… and the word “review” or “complaint” can reveal a lot.

Always look for a physical address and phone number, too. That way you know who to contact if there’s a problem.

4. Don’t provide your personal or financial information unless the website you’re on is secure. If the URL doesn’t start with https, don’t enter your financial information. That S stands for secure. It means the information you’re sending is encrypted and protected.

5. Make your passwords count. They should be at least 10 characters—and a mix of numbers, letters and special characters.

Don’t use your name, birth date or common words.

Don’t use the same password for several accounts, as tempting as that may be.

If it’s stolen, hackers can use it to access your other accounts. Keep your passwords in a secure place, and don’t share them with anyone.

6. Back up your computer files. For example, copy important files to an external hard drive on a regular basis. That way, if there’s a problem with your computer, you won’t lose everything.

Life is online. Whether you live it using a smart phone, a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop, it’s a good time to make computer security a habit.

Find out more at OnGuardOnline.gov, the federal government’s site to help you be safe, secure and responsible online.