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Security Tips for the New Year

As you upgrade your office electronics, keep in mind these best practices for avoiding cyber-thieves.

Standard Paid Holidays January 3, 2017

 

Shopping for you last Christmas was easy. All your friends and relatives knew that you’d get a lot of use out of new electronics. But before you boot up those devices for the first time, make sure you’re safe against the latest hacks and cyber attacks. Here are our top security tips for new devices you may have received over the holidays.

Wipe Your Old Devices

Now that you have a sleek new device, you won’t need the old one anymore. It’s smart to sell your old devices as soon as possible, to make sure you get the highest price for them (your older model will drop in value quite a bit as new models are announced and released in the spring).

We suggest you get rid of them fast, but not too fast. You’ll want to wipe your sensitive data off of them first.

If you’re not sure how to get rid of all your sensitive personal data, you’re not alone. Recently NBC Nightly News bought several used electronics online and then tried to see how much data they could recover from the devices. Without much trouble, they were able to pull names, phone numbers, addresses, Social Security numbers, and more from the devices.

This kind of information can make it possible for criminals to steal your identity and cause you a whole lot of trouble.

It’s best to nip this in the bud and appropriately wipe your data before you sell your old devices. Depending on the device, there are different steps you will need to take.

If you’re selling a laptop or PC, you might want to remove the old hard drive, destroy it, and replace it with a new one.

For cell phones, you should encrypt your data. Then the only way to access your data will be with the encryption code, which hopefully the buyer won’t have.

For more tips on how to get your personal information off your devices before selling them, read this informative article from Consumer Reports.

Invest in Security Software

In this day and age, it’s essential to have a top-tier Internet security program running on your device.

We’re sure you knew that already, but you’d be surprised how many small business owners procrastinate setting up Internet security on their new computers. That’s not smart. This should be one of the first programs you install on your new device.

There are usually great sales going on for security suites during this time of year. So make sure you’re saving at least 50-percent on whatever package you end up choosing.

After you install the software, set it up for automatic updates. Ideally, it should run in the background without you needing to scan and update it.

Monitor Your Accounts

Even the most prepared will sometimes fall prey to a cyber criminal. Don’t beat yourself up about it – these crooks are always innovating their attack plans and are often a step ahead.

To have a fighting chance against them, you’ll need to monitor your accounts and look for suspicious activity proactively. This is especially important during the first few weeks you’re using a new device.

Other Tips to Keep You Safe

Here are a few important steps you can take to try to prevent identity theft:

  • When you’re using your device in public, keep an eye out for “shoulder surfers” who will peek at your personal information as you enter it.
  • Virus detection software isn’t always enough. You may need to install a firewall to keep your network safe.
  • It might be a good time to update all of your passwords. Use a password generator to create complex passwords.

The main point is to keep your head up, stay alert, and be as safe with your digital information as you are with the paper files you keep in your office.

What to Do if It Happens

If you do fall victim to identity theft, it’s important to get an identity theft report as soon as possible. This report is made up of an ID theft affidavit that you’ll get from the Federal Trade Commission, as well as a police report that you’ll get from your local police department. These documents are needed when dealing with any company or bank with fraudulent accounts set up in your name.

Depending on the severity of your situation, you may also need to let other organizations know about your identity theft. Consider informing the major credit reporting agencies, individual retailers, and anywhere you have an account.

Final Thoughts

Crooks are everywhere. It’s why you don’t leave your car or house unlocked. Use the same caution for your digital belongings, and you should be safe.

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