It’s difficult to imagine a world without the possibility of endless content to stream, download, share with your family members or send to your friends. The constant use of connected devices has opened the door to new entertainment, career opportunities and livelihoods. However, these same connected devices can also expose you to the threat of cyber attacks, hackers and security breaches.
“Cybercriminals are continuously looking for ways to exploit computer system vulnerabilities and home networks are popular targets because so many of our devices – phones, TVs, computers, even appliances – are connected to them,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance director of property management. “Mercury provides Home Cyber Protection, an optional coverage to financially protect homeowners and renters if they fall victim to a cyber attack. But there are also steps to take ahead of time to help prevent one from happening in the first place.”
Following are five tips to protect your home network – and the devices connected to it – from hackers.
1. Power down your devices when not in use.
This disables the internet connection, cutting off access to any personal information stored on your computer, tablet or phone. Unattended machines are easy targets for hackers, especially if you’re asleep.
2. Invest in anti-malware software.
Malware – or malicious software – can be installed on your computer without your knowledge by hackers intending to damage your system, steal personal information or restrict your access to extort money from you. Anti-malware software helps protect against, detect and remove malware, stopping cyber criminals from doing further damage. Also, avoid downloading music or video files from suspicious websites, and clicking on links or email attachments in messages sent from unknown senders, as this is another way how cyber attacks work.
3. Secure your wireless network.
Information accessed on an open network, including email passwords and sensitive bank information, is fair game for hackers. Don’t make their job easier – protect your Wi-Fi network with a strong password that’s difficult to guess. Wireless routers that are issued by cable providers are typically assigned a network name and password that’s easily located on a label on the device itself. These can be changed using your online account, so do this as soon as possible for added security.
4. Install recommended updates.
Smartphone, computer, tablet and smart TV manufacturers, among other providers of connected devices, offer periodic software updates to protect your computer and other devices from cyber attacks. Chances are, if an update is recommended, hackers have already discovered a way to access your personal property and information, so keep your software up-to-date. Set your devices to install auto-updates when possible.
5. Beware of phishing scams.
Phishing scams aren’t new, but hackers continually use more sophisticated emails – and even text messages – to trick people into providing their personal information. Other ways to prevent cyber attacks is to avoid clicking on the links or attachments in messages from unknown senders and verify the sender email address is legitimate.