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6 Steps to Protect Your Information from Cybercriminals

Key Cyber Solutions President, AJ Mojaddidi was recently interviewed by local Richmond WWBT 12 On Your Side to offer suggestions on how to protect personal information and accounts online. In response to a watcher whose bank account was compromised resulting in the loss of her monthly pay, Mr. Mojaddidi offered recommendations to help the public protect their information and reduce the risk of becoming a victim to cybercriminals and potential identify theft that could take years to investigate and fully recover. Beyond adding virus protection on laptops, it's also important that cell phones have protection and that users use caution when downloading apps that may be disguised as legitimate companies doing business. To protect your data, only download applications from verified sources and do not respond to or click on links from unknown sources sending unsolicited emails or text messages.

In addition to these tips, the list below provides key recommendations that everyone can use to make it more challenging for cybercriminals to access your private information and data. By applying these steps, the chances of being compromised are significantly reduced.

1. Keep software current – Cybercriminals frequently use known exploits, or flaws, in your software to gain access to your system. Patching those exploits and flaws can make it less likely that you'll become a cybercrime target.

2. Use strong, unique passwords. Change all default factory settings routers and other devices. Don't repeat your passwords on different sites, and change your passwords regularly. Make them complex. That means using a combination of at least 10 letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, use a password manager program that generates and stores unique passwords in one safe location.

3. Enable multifactor authentication. Establish accounts to require two separate pieces of evidence of credentials when logging in to an account.

4. Do not open files or click on links from unknown senders. Resist the urge to open or click on fraudulent emails and text messages that could download software to collect your information. Cybercriminals can compromise your information through tweets, posts, and online advertising, in addition to emails. If it looks suspicious, just delete it. Beware of anyone who implores you to act immediately.

5. Avoid using public WIFI. Hackers can easily connect to public Wi-Fi and watch your every move, including what passwords and account information you enter while you're connected. To keep your information safe, either don't use public Wi-Fi or avoid entering private information and using apps that have passwords when you are on public Wi-Fi.

6. Manage social media account settings to limit the visibility of personal information and limit the amount of information that you share online. Beware of sharing any information that could be used later guess passwords or other information used to verify your identity including date and place of birth, pet names, and personal favorites. The less information shared online publicly, the better.

After taking the above steps, if you still become an unfortunate victim of a cybercrime, it's a good idea to alert the local police and the Federal Trade Commission, even if the crime seems minor. Taking these steps with help investigators or may help to discourage criminals from taking advantage of others.


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