June is the start of summer and also Internet Safety Month!

So how do you keep your identity, your finances, and the people you care about safe in this kind of digital climate? By knowing the dangers, both old and new, that can strike at any time.

1. Scams and fraud

Compared to some of the many other ways that a criminal can target you or your loved ones, scams and fraud might not seem all that serious. The reality, though, is that the damage could be short-term (like a ransomware attack that “goes away” after you pay the hacker’s fee) or more long-lasting, such as ongoing identity theft.

Knowing the latest tactics that scammers use, coupled with knowing how things like overdue taxes, utilities, or financial accounts legally operate, will help you spot something fishy the moment it appears.

2. Viruses, malware, and ransomware

It’s vital that every tech user understands some of the most common ways that hackers actually infect their victims’ computers. There are a wide variety of ways and countless forms of viruses, but sometimes it’s the victim who did the hard part for them. Clicking on unexpected links, downloading videos, and opening attachments are some of the most common ways to install a virus on your network.

These phishing attempts commonly show up in your email inbox or your text messages, and often include seemingly harmless wording like, “You won’t believe this crazy photo I found of you!” or “There’s a problem with your account.” It’s important that all tech users adopt an air of caution surrounding attachments, links, and multimedia content, and that they fight the urge to click.

3. Password protect everything

Whether it’s your home wifi network, your bank account, or just your favorite cooking website’s recipe box, everything you do online can potentially be an avenue into your network and your identity. Using strong, unique passwords and changing them routinely is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of cybercrime.

4. Update it all

Your antivirus software, your operating system, your firewall…they’re only as good as the day you first installed them if you’re not keeping them up-to-date. Some users aren’t fond of the “automatic update” option that comes with a lot of systems and instead choose to turn that setting off, which is fine if you keep up with new updates when they’re released by the developer. Failing to update your software and your system leaves you vulnerable to threats that the developer has discovered and patched.

5. Communication

Finally, one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and others is to communicate. Sign up for threat alerts and newsletters, and help spread the word among your friends and coworkers. It can mean the difference between hackers taking over your home, office, or mobile network, or working to keep them out.

Learn more about protecting yourself online from ITRC partner, Stay Safe Online.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.