What can home users do?

Home computers are a common target of cybercriminals. Home users keep large amounts of personal data on their computer, such as tax records, banking information, and lists of contacts. In addition, home computers have become the family archive of photos, documents, and other sentimental items that, if lost, would be devastating. There are actions you can take to help protect your family’s privacy and decrease your odds of a cyberattack. Consider doing the following during National Cyber Security Awareness Month:

  • Use a suite of automatically updating security tools that includes anti-spyware, firewall and anti-virus software.
  • Be sure your operating system and Web browser are set to automatically update.
  • Update all other software as updates become available.
  • Use long, complex passwords for both your computer and your network router that include numbers, symbols and letters, and change them periodically.
  • Maintain vigilance online and be skeptical about giving up personal information.
  • Turn off your computer when you are not using it.
  • Remember your mobile device may also be connected to the Internet, so employ the same online safety behaviors when “surfing” on a mobile device.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of an infected computer including slower processing times, unwanted pop-up ads and unknowingly sending spam out to your contacts.
  • Talk to your kids about good online safety and security habits, including protecting their personal information and their reputation. Let them know that they can come to you if anything they see on their computer makes them uncomfortable.
  • Know what Web sites your children are visiting online, and check their social network activity regularly. Request your children either friend you or provide you with a password to their account.
  • Regularly back up your data either online or to an external media source (and store in a secure location).
  • Engage your community by posting cybersecurity tips on your favorite community mailing list or discussion group, write a blog, or connect your friends to www.staysafeonline.org through the social networks you use.
  • Go to your favorite search engine and search for your name and other family members to see what is on the web about you. Take remedial steps when needed.