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Cybersecurity protection tips
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Security & privacy

3 easy ways you can protect yourself from scammers and snoops NOW

If you’ve been traveling lately, you may have noticed more flight disruptions than usual. Staff shortages at airlines have caused many delays and cancellations.

You can bet your bottom dollar that scammers are taking advantage of the situation by creating fake booking websites to lure in hopeful travelers. Tap or click here for our report and tips on avoiding airfare scams.

You can take some steps to significantly reduce your chances of falling victim to the various scams out there. Read on for three ways to stay protected.

1. Set a password on your computer

You know to use strong, unique passwords for all your accounts, right? Whether you use a password manager or develop them yourself, this is a crucial step. Tap or click here for more password tips.

Have you given any thought to your computer? Leaving it unlocked invites anyone to come along and snoop on your privacy or access sensitive information. A bad actor can even plant malware to monitor your activity secretly.

Locking your computer is especially important if you use a laptop — imagine what can happen if it’s lost or stolen.

You need to set a strong password for your computer itself. Use the same guidelines you would for any of your accounts:

  • Use a combination of letters, special characters, numbers and alternating capitalization.
  • Make sure your password is at least eight characters long.
  • Consider creating a passphrase instead of a password. These are longer and harder to crack.
  • Don’t use the same password more than once.

Write your password down on paper or in a special notebook and store it somewhere safe. Here are the steps for adding a password to your computer:

Lock your Windows PC

  • Go to Start > Settings > Accounts.
  • Click Sign-in options from the left pane.
  • Click Add under the Password section.
  • Enter a new password.
  • Click Next, then Finish.

Tap or click here for steps on resetting your password if you need to.

Lock your Mac

When setting up a Mac, you’re prompted to create a log in password. You’ll want to set your password to unlock your computer:

  • Click the Apple icon, then System Preferences.
  • Click Security and Privacy.
  • Check the Require password box in the General tab.
  • Set the timing of the password to immediately to set your Mac to automatically lock when it goes into sleep or screensaver mode.

Forgot your password? You can reset it with your Apple ID or a recovery key.

2. Don’t respond to spam texts

It’s rare for any company to text you out of nowhere. If you think a text could be authentic, contact the company directly through a known phone number or website to find out if it indeed was from them.

It may be tempting to type an expletive-ridden response to suspicious texts, but you’re only going to make things worse. You’re letting them know they hooked a working phone number by responding. They’ll bother you again and again. This applies even if the message gives you options to unsubscribe. Don’t touch that dial! Er, keypad.

Simply block the number and delete the message.

3. Do an app audit

Is your phone filled with apps you barely use? If so, it’s time for an app audit!

Getting rid of apps frees up space on your phone for photos, videos and other files. It also helps your phone run faster and smoother. And with fewer apps, you’ll spend less time scrolling through a bunch of stuff to get to what you need.

More importantly, an app audit reduces your security risk. The more apps you have, the greater the chance of having malicious programs that hackers and snoops can use.

Before you go on a deleting frenzy, make note of each app you have an account with. You’ll want to remove your personal information. In most cases, you can do this by logging into the app and deleting your account, but some may require you to access a website from a desktop browser or even contact the company directly.

With that done, you can go on to remove the apps.

Delete apps from your iPhone

  • Touch and hold an app, then tap Remove App > Delete App > Delete
  • You can also use the App Library to get a curated list of your apps grouped by category. Swipe past the last page of your Home screen to access it. Tap and hold the app you want to remove, then select Delete App > Delete

Delete apps from your Android phone

  • Long-press an app, then tap App Info > Uninstall
  • Go to Settings > Apps & Notifications to see a list of your apps and delete them the same way. 
  • You can also open the Google Play Store app and navigate to Menu > My apps & games. 
  • Tap on the app and hit Uninstall
  • Note: Samsung and OnePlus phones have an Uninstall option under the app shortcuts menu. 

Tap or click here for more tips on cleaning out your smartphone.

Keep reading

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