Securing devices

2020 has shifted most of our home, school and business lives online. The devices you use that connect to the internet collect tons of personal data and could threaten your online security if not secured. Information including your home address, email address, phone number, personal ID numbers and date of birth is like gold to a cybercriminal.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices may include your home thermostat, smart refrigerator, smart watch, baby monitor or a smart TV. These devices may be connected to the internet constantly. Protect IoT devices by connecting to a secured network—and be careful not to place them in areas where you have private work or family discussions.

Most home wireless networks (Wi-Fi) are controlled by your internet router or a separate dedicated wireless access point that broadcasts wireless signals. Those signals can extend way beyond the walls of your house or apartment. If you share your Wi-Fi password with friends or guests, they can connect anytime they pass by—and gain access to your home network.

Here’s how to protect your technology and secure your personal/work data:

  • CONFIGURE YOUR PRIVACY AND SECURITY SETTINGS. Every time you sign up for a new account, download a new app, or get a new “smart” device, immediately configure the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information sharing and disable features you don’t need. Regularly check these settings at least once per year to ensure they are still configured properly.
  • KEEP SOFTWARE UP TO DATE. Updates include important changes that improve the performance and security of your devices.
  • USE EFFECTIVE PASSWORDS. In addition to a strong Wi-Fi password, use strong passwords on all your devices and apps. Make them at least 12 characters long, using numbers, symbols and capital and lowercase letters. Make the passwords unique to only that network, device or app. Never share your passwords or store them physically (such as on a sticky-note or in a notebook).
  • SECURE YOUR ACCOUNTS. Set up multi-factor authentication on any account that allows it and never disable it.
  • SECURE YOUR HOME WIRELESS NETWORK. Change your router login’s default username and password, as they are easily found online. Always keep WPA2 enabled to ensure the best security for the devices on your network. Use a strong Wi-Fi sign-in password. Update your router’s firmware regularly to ensure you have the latest security updates.
  • SECURE OLD DEVICES. If you lend, give, sell or throw out an old device, return it to factory settings to prevent your data from being accessed after you no longer have control. Remember to back up or transfer any important information on the device.
  • AVOID OVERSHARING ON SOCIAL MEDIA. If you share things like pet names, schools you attended, links to family members and your birthday, you give a scammer all the information they need to guess your password or answer your security questions.
  • DON’T FALL FOR CLICKBAIT SCAMS. Don’t click on links, attachments or anything else in an unsolicited email or text message asking you to update or verify account information. Look up the company’s phone number or customer service email address on your own and call or email the company directly to ask if the request is legitimate.

—Kent State University Division of Information Technology


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