Lock Down Your Online Security in the New Year

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the most popular goals tend to involve a promise to trim down, eat healthier, and quit smoking. But sometimes it pays to buck the trend. This year, your online health needs as much help as your physical fitness.

If you’re like most people glued to their screens, you do a lot of things from your phone or laptop. Apps help you keep in touch with friends around the world. Your tablet helps you comparison shop or buy groceries. You may even open your laptop to apply online when you need to borrow money in an unexpected emergency.

No matter how you spend your time online, you’re likely exchanging a lot of information. To make sure you’re doing this safely, follow these tips to lock down your online security in the new year.

Download Carefully

Not all websites are designed for the mobile experience, so downloading the right apps help your phone work at its best — whether you use it as a gaming console or a financial tool that helps you compare personal line of credit options.

But before you click download on your next app, make sure it comes from either the Apple or Google app stores. These companies do their best to weed out malware and other scams.

Check Your Email Carefully

Watch out for the “S” word. Spam is not just an annoying thing cluttering up your inbox. It may be a serious security risk if it involves another “S” word: scam.

Scams try to obtain your personal information by pretending to be a figure of authority. Maybe it’s the IRS, a personal line of credit company, or even a family member.

To make sure you don’t fall for it, always double check the sender. If it has an unusual domain or URL, it may be a con.

The same goes for any links or attachments. Only click on these things if you’re expecting them. Hover your mouse over them to see the destination, and don’t click if it shows something unusual.

Be suspicious of everything — even if it shows Google in the attachment name. Google shows in its Jigsaw Quiz how scams use look-alike URLs that reference the alphabet-company. On closer inspection, these scams are nothing like legitimate Google Drive URLs.

Use an Antivirus Program

Scams bombard your email in hopes that they’ll eventually wear you down. And it works. One moment of inattention may be your downfall.

An antivirus program acts as your safety net in case something slips past your notice. They outfit your computer with protections against viruses, malware, and other threats. So even if you do accidentally click on the wrong link, your personal information isn’t totally exposed.

There are a lot of programs available to help — from free services to costly monthly subscriptions. Do some research on what you need to strike a balance between protection and cost.

Online security isn’t a given every time you log on. It’s the result of deliberate habits. Keep your personal information on lock down by choosing to make your online security a priority in the new year. Tips like the ones above will help you protect your privacy from prying eyes.