ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Expect to be attacked! That’s the advice from CPA Dave Young when it comes to cyber threats on your personal devices.
Young discussed some of the steps we can take to keep our information safe Monday during News 8 at Sunrise.
“You’re going to be a target,” said Young. “You have to be prepared and make sure you’re ready to do all the things you can to keep yourself safe. So make sure you have, for example, antivirus software. Make sure it’s up to date. Make sure you have a strong password. If you go from a 10 character password that can be broken in say, just a short period of time – four months – add 2 more characters, it’s 200 years for a 12 character password. So add that extra 2 characters and make sure it’s not an easy password, it’s mixed up, it’s random letters and special characters.”
Young said use two factor authentication. “If you do get your password compromised, the two factor will send a push notification to your smartphone. I would employ two factor wherever you can use it.”
Phishing emails are a common threat. “Those are emails that are just scams,” said Young. “They’ll send you to a fake website, so if you get an email that has a link on it and you don’t know where it’s coming from, do not click on it.”
Young said dispose of old information and documents properly. “Don’t be tossing out old tax returns in the garbage. You want to make sure you shred that. Maybe you can bring it to your CPA and they can shred it for you. All of us CPA’s get rid of all of our information securely. But don’t just toss it out in the garbage.”
Be aware of where you access the internet. “If you’re on the internet, let’s say in a hot spot having a cup of coffee, that’s very dangerous because when you’re putting your passwords out they’re going out over the WiFi,” Young noted. “If you do access the internet outside of your home network or even in your home network you want a VPN. Anything that’s wireless you have to be careful, particularly in the public.”
Lock your computer when you step away from it. “Let’s just say you leave your computer, even if you’re in the office, you want to make sure it’s not where another person can get into your computer,” Young said. “If you leave your computer someone can hop right on it, so if you leave it just lock up so you need to put your password to get back in it.”
Protect your smartphone as well. “Everybody these days has smartphones,” said Young. “You want to make sure you have a password on that smartphone. If you lose that smartphone someone is going to have your data, your email, everything.”
Back up your data.
Watch what you’re sharing on social networks and social engineering.
Monitor your accounts for suspicious activity.