Tips for a Secure Internet Connection
Cybercrime is everywhere and more than half of our personal devices have been exposed to a virus or malware. About a third of us have had a password compromised. Every day, millions of people access financial accounts, tax filing programs, health insurance plans, and other personal and sensitive information over the internet.
How do you keep your information, and yourself, safe? The easiest and most important step you can take is to make sure you’re on a secure internet connection.
Here are some tips to ensure your connection is secure:
Basics – Your Home Network
- Make sure your modem/router is using WPA (Wireless Protected Access) or WPA2 (which is better) encryption, not WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). You can do this by logging into your administrator tools on your router. Your router manufacturer or Internet Service Provider (ISP) should have a tutorial on their website to access these tools and configure your network. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself, ask a trusted friend or relative for help.
- Set a strong password for your home network. Use a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols – or consider using a passphrase such as bubblEWr@p88!
- If you’re accessing sensitive information on a wireless network away from home, only do so on a secure, trusted wireless network. This may be at a family or friend’s home, after confirming the network is secure.
- Never access sensitive information from a public network (restaurant, hotel, etc.), even if the network requires a password.
Public Wifi: Hotels, restaurants, and other public venues
Never access sensitive information from public wireless internet or a public computer – even if you are required to enter a password unless you are using a VPN (more below). The network may appear secure, but there may be many other people on that network and you can assume one of those people is trying to steal your data.
Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
- Using a VPN is easy.
- Using a VPN is a great way to stay secure while using any network outside your home.
- A VPN is an application downloaded to your computer or mobile device that creates a kind of mini private network.
- All of the data coming from your device is encrypted, so it is much less likely to be vulnerable to cyber criminals.
- A secure VPN is a convenient way to be able to access personal data when away from home.
- A VPN is easy to turn on or off as needed.
- A good VPN will cost you a few dollars a month (stay away from the free ones), but the cost is small compared to the convenience and peace of mind it can provide.