BY CONGRESSMEMBER STEVE ISRAEL
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, we are reminded of the importance of reevaluating our security procedures. However, we also must be conscious of another challenge: the threat to our personal information from cyber-attacks.
Cyber intrusions, most recently from hackers with Chinese IP addresses, have compromised the safety of our personal information on our computers. Just the other day, a fake tweet sent by hackers from the Associated Press’ Twitter account was able to briefly send the stock market into a freefall. With all this in mind, I would like to outline a few things you can do on your computers at home to protect your privacy online and make sure that computer hackers and spammers cannot access your personal accounts or information. The following information applies to both your email and social media accounts.
Use a strong password
Your password should be something that isn’t easy to guess. The longer the password, the safer your personal information. Passwords should have upper-case and lowercase characters, numbers and even punctuation and exclamation marks. Some sites will tell you how strong a password is, so you know how well protected your account is.
Connect your mobile device to your accounts
Adding your social media and email accounts to your mobile device will require that any password changes need to be confirmed by you through that device before they become effective. It’s an additional layer of protection that’s worth the extra text message or email you will receive from time to time to confirm changes.
Be careful what you click on and where you enter information
A lot of hackers send emails and messages that look legitimate and ask for your passwords and other personal information. This is called “phishing.” Hackers are very good at making fake websites that look almost identical to the legitimate page, so it’s especially important to be careful what you click on.
Never give up your password
No employee of any company will contact you through phone or email to ask for your password. If this does happen to you, call the company directly and report it.
Download free anti-virus software and scan regularly
Anti-Virus Software is readily available and free online. You should perform a virus scan of your computer every few weeks. One good program is Avast, or AVG, which can be downloaded at www.avast.com and free.avg.com.
Israel represents the 3rd District, including Whitestone, Douglaston, Little Neck, Bayside and Flushing.