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Securing Every Part of Our Digital Lives

Is there anything we can’t accomplish through our smart phones? From online shopping and banking to adjusting the thermometer; from tracking ours steps to tracking the contents of our refrigerators, and everything in between. Through our phones we can turn on our ovens, our lights, our cars. These features come at the touch of a “button,” and provide people with a level of convenience and ease never seen before. 

Use of connected devices is growing: 

  • 1.8 billion: the number of smartphone users* 
  • 50 billion: the number of connected devices expected by 2020 (that’s 1 person to every 7 devices)* 
  • $5 trillion: the amount the connected device market is expected to grow over the next 6 years* 

As more devices and objects become connected to the Internet – from phones and tablets to homes, vehicles, and medical devices – it is important to realize that the security of these devices is not always guaranteed. Here are steps you can take to protect yourself when using your connected devices: 

  1. Set strong passwords. Setting strong passwords that are long, unique and hard to guess is one of the most important things you can do to protect your online accounts. Changing passwords regularly, and using different passwords for different accounts, goes a long way to protecting your online information. 
  2. Secure your accounts. Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site, such as two-factor authentication. 
  3. Secure your device. In order to prevent theft and unauthorized access, use a passcode to lock your device, lock it when it is not in use, and never leave it unattended in a public place. 
  4. Disable remote connectivity. Some mobile devices are equipped with wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth, that can connect to other devices. Disable these features when they are not in use. 
  5. When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or, if appropriate, mark it as ‘junk email’ so you no longer receive emails from this sender. 

It’s also important to look toward the future. As new “smart” devices and Internet-connected technology are introduced, it is easy to get caught up in the novelty and overlook security. Before you adopt new devices, do the following: 

  • Read the privacy and security policies of these devices. 
  • Understand what kind of information is being shared, and what options you have to limit this sharing. 
  • Make sure your home Internet networks – where most of your devices will connect from – is secure. 

Here are some free resources: Cybersecurity While Traveling Tip Card and the Mobile Security Tip Card.

Bush