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Why you should use a VPN
After shopping for a product, you’ve probably noticed advertising for it pop up later on unrelated websites. Your devices have an IP address, which is a string of characters that identifies where you go on the web. In an era where online privacy is increasingly under threat, your digital security has never been more crucial. Virtual private networks (VPNs) have emerged as a powerful tool for people looking to protect their sensitive data, maintain anonymity, and fortify their cybersecurity defenses. We’re exploring the key reasons why using a VPN is essential in today’s interconnected world.
What to know about VPNs
VPN stands for virtual private network. They encrypt data from your computers and devices to the internet by rerouting it to a private computer server. This masks your location and hides your IP address from websites. They also reduce the risks of using public Wi-Fi by acting as an encrypted middle ground between your device and internet router.
VPNs can be either software or hardware. Hardware VPNs (sometimes called VPN routers or VPN firewalls) are physical devices you connect to your computer, while software VPNs are apps or programs you install on your device. Because of their expense, size, and technical requirements, hardware VPNs are more commonly found in business settings. You likely will choose a software VPN for remote work or personal use.
Should you use a VPN?
Fortunately, most websites you use are probably encrypted—you can tell because the web address uses an HTTPS connection as its first four letters. Unencrypted web pages used to be a major reason to use a VPN. Now, most of the websites you visit use HTTPS, so it isn’t as much of an issue.
Still, it can create a useful barrier between your device and internet connection. This is important if you’re traveling and connect to public Wi-Fi. Nowadays, a VPN alone can’t mask your web activity from everyone—it won’t keep you anonymous if you log into a website via your Google or Microsoft account, for example.
A VPN prevents your internet service provider (i.e., the company that sells your internet access) from tracking your specific journey on the internet. However, they can still gather some data, like the fact that you’re connected to a VPN.
Using a VPN is great from a privacy perspective because service providers have a history of handing your data over to others, like selling it to marketers so they can target ads. Some people opt for one because they can help them access content on streaming platforms that might be blocked in their area, or they can bypass internet censorship in some countries.
Of course, a VPN can see what you do on its network. You should compare options and read through the terms of service to see what data they log, if any. Search reviews and ask your tech-savvy friends for advice.
Our verdict: protect yourself
Use a quality VPN as another layer of security for your digital life, especially if you ever use public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks. However, remember that it’s not a cybersecurity silver bullet that will replace antivirus programs, password managers, or enabling multi-factor authentication.
How to choose a VPN
When comparing options, read expert reviews and the terms of service. You want to ensure that it treats your data as sacrosanct—a free or extremely low-cost VPN might be worse than not using one at all.
Here are some other factors to consider:
- Security and encryption infrastructure
- Speed and performance
- Privacy and data logging policy
- Server locations and network size
- Compatibility and features
- Customer support and reviews
How to use a VPN
Setting up a software VPN is straightforward for most computers and smart devices. Generally, here are the steps to follow:
- Download and install the program on your device. Make sure you are downloading the program from the legitimate vendor.
- Create an account and sign in—turn on multi-factor authentication to keep your login credentials safe.
- Within the program, select a server location based on your needs.
- Connect to the VPN. Enjoy secure and private browsing!
Tips and tricks
While you’re browsing the internet on your VPN, here are some extra tips for optimizing it:
- Flip on the “kill switch” feature to prevent data leaks if the connection drops. The kill switch will disconnect your device from the internet if you lose your VPN connection.
- “Split tunneling” allows you to route some web traffic through the VPN and some through your regular network simultaneously. This is useful if a VPN is too slow for some uses (gaming, for example) or you’re prevented from accessing certain websites. This way, you can use a VPN for internet activities you want to keep protected, like banking or email.
- Use a DNS leak test to check if your DNS requests are exposed. This will show if any of your web activity isn’t being correctly routed.
- Use a speed test to check your VPN’s performance. Then you can tell if it’s working as advertised.
How to troubleshoot a VPN
Because most or all of your internet use moves through your VPN tunnel, you want to respond to problems ASAP. If these tips don’t help or you can’t find a solution, contact the VPN company directly.
My connection fails or drops frequently
If your VPN is fluttery or dropping often, check your internet connection, firewall settings, and server status. It might also help to switch to another protocol or server.
My internet is too slow
Encrypting and decrypting your web activity takes time, but most current VPNs shouldn’t noticeably impact most of your browsing activities. If your internet is moving at a snail’s pace, select a server that is closer geographically or less crowded. Reducing the encryption level might help, and you might want to think about setting up split tunneling. Also, disable background apps that consume bandwidth.
My VPN doesn’t unblock geo-restricted content
If you have trouble accessing content, clear the browser cache and cookies first. It might help to change your device’s time zone, too.
My VPN causes errors or crashes my device
Make sure your device and your VPN are running the latest updates—it’s a good idea to turn on automatic updates. If this doesn’t work, try to uninstall and reinstall the VPN software. If you’re still having trouble, you should contact the provider for support.
Bottom line: VPNs protect your online presence
Using a VPN increases your safety online and peace of mind, especially when traveling or using a public Wi-Fi network. Talk to your employer about setting up a VPN for work use and think about setting one up for personal use, so you can enjoy the internet safely.
Phishing vs. smishing: What’s the difference and how can you protect yourself?
Our phones, tablets, and other technology are a constant presence in our lives—our personal information is on there, from photos and contacts to bank accounts and social media. Because of that, hackers are constantly attempting scams like phishing and smishing. Although they have a few differences, they have one common goal: to steal your personal information. We’re breaking down the differences between phishing and smishing, how to spot the signs, and how to protect yourself.
What is phishing?
Phishing is when criminals use fake emails, social media posts, or direct messages with the goal of luring you to click on a bad link or download a malicious attachment. If you click on a phishing link or file, you’re handing over your personal information to cybercriminals. A phishing scheme can also install malware onto your device.
Signs of a phishing attempt
The signs can be subtle, but once you recognize a phishing attempt, you can avoid falling for it. Before clicking any links or downloading attachments, take a few seconds and ensure the email looks legit. Here are some quick tips on how to clearly spot a phishing email:
- Does it contain an offer that’s too good to be true?
- Does it include urgent, alarming, or threatening language?
- Is it poorly crafted writing, riddled with misspellings and bad grammar?
- Is the greeting ambiguous or very generic?
- Does it include requests to send personal information?
- Does it stress the urgency to click on unfamiliar links or attachments?
- Is it a strange or abrupt business request?
- Does the sender’s email address match the company it’s coming from? Look for little misspellings like “pavpal.com” or “anazon.com.”
What to do if you see a phishing email
You’ve already done the hard part—recognizing that an email is fake and part of a phishing attempt.
If the email came to your work email address, report it to your IT manager or security officer as quickly as possible. If the email came to your personal email address, don’t click on any links—even the unsubscribe link—or reply back to the email. Delete the email entirely.
You can take your protection a step further and block the sending address from your email program.
What is smishing?
With the increased use of mobile devices to manage so much of our lives, it’s no surprise scammers have moved to this medium to target your sensitive information. According to the 2023 State of the Phish, phone-oriented attack delivery attempts increased to 300-400K daily.
If you have a mobile phone, you’ve most likely experienced smishing. Smishing is a phishing message received via text message. Just like an email phishing attempt, the scammers are targeting your sensitive information.
Scammers choose smishing over phishing particularly because people are more inclined to click texts than emails. SMS click-through rates are between 8.9%-14.5%, whereas emails have an average click-through rate of only 1.4%. Our phones are glued to our hands, and people often check notifications instantaneously.
How does smishing work?
Similar to what you might experience in your email, these messages use emotional triggers to entice you to interact with the links. The themes typically target your personal information, such as your username and password, bank account information, credit card information, or Social Security number.
Signs of a smishing attempt
Like phishing attempts, the signs can be subtle (and similar), so recognizing them is key. Below are a few ways to spot a smishing attempt:
- Phone numbers and area codes may be spoofed, making them look like they’re from a trustworthy source, like your financial institution.
- Texts appear concise and urgent, eliciting an emotional response.
- You’re urged to click on a link or call a phone number to resolve the problem.
- Texts contain unusual greetings or generic salutations, such as “Hi sirs” or “Dear customer.”
Some common smishing scams include fake package delivery alerts, “wrong number” text scams, account verification scams, or scam surveys—just to name a few.
What to do if you receive a smishing text
Make sure you have multi-factor authentication turned on for your accounts. This ensures scammers can’t access your accounts unless they physically have your device.
Don’t click on links or reply to the message—delete the text altogether. Report spam texts to your phone carrier and the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov.
You can take your protection a step further and block the sending phone number from your cell phone. On iPhones, go to Settings > Messages > Message Filtering > Filter Unknown Senders. On Androids, go to Settings in Google Messages > enable Spam Protection.
Ensuring your device’s software is updated is also crucial. Enable automatic updates if possible. Software updates are an easy way to stay one step ahead of hackers—they provide new security patches where criminals previously may have been able to access your information.
What to do if you accidentally click a smishing link
If you accidentally click a link, don’t enter personal information, like usernames or passwords. Disconnect your device from the internet and scan your device for malware (if you’re not tech-savvy, leave that to a professional).
Contact your financial institutions and freeze your credit. Set up fraud alerts with one of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). Once you’ve notified one bureau, they must notify the others.
You also want to change your credentials (from a different device that’s not infected), so your personal or financial information can’t be compromised. If you don’t already, use different passwords across accounts so it’s more difficult for hackers to access your credentials or account numbers.
These scams aren’t going away anytime soon, especially with our reliance on technology. It’s important to stay aware and be cautious when opening emails and texts from unknown contacts. Continue to educate yourself with blogs and security articles, and inform your friends and family, too. By working together, we can all protect our personal information from hackers and scammers, and minimize the risk of being a cybercrime victim.
How to tell if your computer has a virus (and what to do about it)
Computer viruses have caused headaches for many of us. Some viruses brick your devices and make them impossible to use, but more often, viruses slow down your computer or steal your data. But there are steps you can take to boot a virus off your machine.
Computer viruses replicate themselves, spreading through your device’s operating system and network. The virus is also simultaneously wreaking havoc: it can damage programs, delete files, and make devastating changes to your hard drive, which can result in reduced performance. Some viruses will even crash your entire system. Viruses can also give their cybercriminal creators an opportunity to destroy or steal your sensitive data and documents.
The idea of having a virus on your computer is scary, but we’re here to help! Here we’ve gathered tips on how to prevent, detect, and defeat computer viruses.
How does a computer get a virus?
The most common reason your computer gets infected is because you downloaded or installed infected files. Pirated media and free games are common culprits, and so are phishing attacks where you click on a bad link, button, or email attachment. Once clicked, the virus or other malware installs itself. Similarly, viruses can infect your computer when you visit scam websites. Sometimes, you can unintentionally install a virus from an infected external drive, like a USB stick.
How do I tell if my computer has a virus?
If you notice any of (or all) these symptoms, your computer might have a virus:
- Suddenly slow computer performance, meaning it takes a noticeably longer time to start up or open programs
- Problems unexpectedly shutting down or restarting
- Missing files
- Frequent system crashes
- Frequent error messages
- Unexpected pop-up windows
- New applications (like web browser toolbars) that appear without you downloading them
- Overworked hard drive, which you can detect if your device’s internal fan seems to be whirring and working hard when you aren’t doing much
- Emails that are sent automatically from your accounts without you sending them
- Lagging web browser or your web browser constantly redirects
- Malfunctioning antivirus programs or firewalls
What to do if your computer has a virus
If you think your computer has a virus, you should act fast to eradicate the malicious code. Don’t panic—we’ve broken down what you should do into a few easy-to-understand steps:
1. Run a full system scan
If you suspect your computer has a virus, use antivirus software to run a full system scan of your device. It’s best to set your antivirus program to do this automatically on a regular basis so you can detect any issues before they become emergencies. Review the detected threats and act—many antivirus and antimalware programs guide you through this.
2. Restore to an earlier backup
If you can’t delete the virus or infected files, try restoring your computer to an earlier backup before your problems started. Scan your system again with antivirus software and see if the same issues exist.
3. Delete temporary files
Delete the temporary files on your computer. How you delete these files is usually easy, but it depends on your operating system (like Windows or macOS). You can find detailed information if you search for your specific system.
4. Use safe mode
If you’re prevented from deleting files because your computer is malfunctioning, try booting up in safe mode. Safe mode restricts certain programs so you can work to fix the issue without interruption.
5. Reinstall your operating system
As a final measure to get rid of a computer virus, you can reinstall your device’s operating system. This can result in the loss of critical files or other data. It’s a good idea to seek professional help and take your device to a computer store. Many shops or experts will guide you through reinstalling your operating system for free.
The only way to ensure that you eliminate a virus is to wipe your device and reinstall a new operating system.
This is why you should practice good backup habits. The process (called reimaging) eliminates everything on the hard drive (both the virus files and all of your files).
Depending on the severity of the issue, you might be able to deal with malware or a virus without taking this step (by using a quality antivirus software or going into safe mode and removing bad files, for example). Still, reimaging is the most effective option if you want to be sure that the virus is removed.
There have been rare instances where a computer virus even survives reimaging. Consult a tech professional if you’re considering this drastic step.
How to prevent computer viruses
Follow these best practices to prevent viruses from infecting your devices:
1. Use antivirus software
You should always have a trusted antivirus installed on your computer—it’s best to boot up some antivirus software as soon as you start using a new device. You should be able to turn on regular scans of your entire device so you know ASAP if there are any issues.
2. Follow the core 4
By following four basic cybersecurity behaviors, you can forge good habits that make it difficult for computer viruses to get through:
- Use complex passwords that are at least 12 characters long and are unique to each account; use a password manager to store your passwords
- Turn on multi-factor authentication (MFA, sometimes called 2-factor authentication) for any account that permits it
- Turn on automatic updates for your hardware, software, and apps
- Learn how to identify phishing—don’t take the bait
3. Be careful on public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi in cafes, airports, and other businesses can be convenient, but they are often unsecured and leave your phone, tablet, or computer susceptible to viruses. Using a mobile hotspot or VPN (virtual private network) is a more secure way to connect when you’re on the go.
4. Get your software fresh from the source
One of the oldest tricks in the cybercriminal’s book is to sneak viruses and malware into software and files people want to pirate. Always download software from verified sources and get your apps from your device’s official app store. You might think you’re saving money by pirating software, movies, or other media, but you’re also putting your device and network at risk.
- Prevention is key. Install and regularly update antivirus software, follow the core 4 cybersecurity practices, and be cautious on public Wi-Fi.
- Early detection is crucial. Regularly scan for viruses and know the common signs of infection.
- Act quickly. If you suspect a virus, isolate your device, disconnect from the internet, and run a full system scan.
- Use reimaging as a last resort. Consider reimaging your device if other methods fail, but be prepared for potential data loss.
By taking these steps, you can enjoy a safer computer experience and protect your personal information. Knowledge is power in the fight against digital threats—so stay informed and safe online!
10 safety tips for online gaming
Whether you’re an eSports pro, killing a few spare minutes on your phone, or enjoying an endless fantasy realm for hours, online gaming is a quickly growing hobby with more than one billion gamers worldwide—and more potential for hackers and cybercriminals to access your information. That said, it’s important to remain vigilant about protecting your online safety. You shouldn’t lower your cybersecurity defenses just because you’re racking up points! Here are 10 tips for staying safe while online gaming:
1. Remember to use strong passwords
Winners use long, complex, and unique passwords. The strongest passwords are at least 12 characters long and include letters, numbers, and symbols. Ideally, your password is not recognizable as a word or phrase. And yes, you should have a unique password for each online account. Sounds hard to remember? Using a password manager has never been easier—many smartphones and web browsers include password managers. The best password managers will even suggest strong passwords!
2. Research your games
Mobile gaming makes up almost half of the global games market. However, just because a game is available on a trusted app store doesn’t guarantee it’s safe to download. Before installing any new gaming apps on your device, make sure it’s legitimate. Check out the reviews or research the internet before downloading.
3. Use multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA), sometimes called two-factor authentication, adds another level of security to your accounts, and now some games and gaming systems allow for MFA. MFA includes biometrics (think face ID scans or fingerprint access), security keys, or apps that send you unique, one-time codes when you want to log on to an account. We recommend you use MFA whenever offered. It’s like building a castle around your loot crate!
4. Turn on automatic updates
We recommend keeping your gaming hardware and software as updated as possible. You don’t have to check your settings tab every morning, either. You can usually set up automatic updates so that updates are downloaded and installed as soon as they’re available from the device, software, or app creator. Note that you might have to restart your device for the updates to fully install. It’s best to do this immediately, but you can often schedule this to happen when you aren’t gaming, like the middle of the night (or perhaps the early afternoon).
5. Look out for phishing attempts
Cybercriminals often entice gamers into clicking bad links or downloading malicious files by offering cheats or hacks—this is known as phishing. Be wary of clicking on links or downloading from a stranger or that you weren’t expecting. If the offer seems too good to be true, chances are it is. Verify the link before clicking it by hovering over it with your cursor to see the link’s true destination.
6. Use a credit card for payments
If a gaming system requires you to tie a specific payment method to your account, choose a credit card over a debit card. Credit cards come with more consumer protections than debit cards, and you have a better chance of getting your money back in case of fraud.
7. Share with care
The more information you post, the easier it may be for a criminal to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes, such as stalking. Think about how much personal information you provide on gaming account profiles. Err on the side of sharing less online. And if a stranger asks you to share this information, say no.
8. Game in disguise
Are you suiting up and playing with people you don’t know? They don’t need to know your real name or any other personal information—they just need to find out how awesome you are at the game. Use a safe username that doesn’t reveal any personal information, such as where you live or your name. In addition, use an avatar instead of your actual photo. If a stranger asks you to share a photo or to turn on your webcam, refuse. They don’t need to see you to play you!
9. Block anyone who makes you uncomfortable
If another player makes you uncomfortable, block them and tell a trusted adult. Remember that you can always kick a player out of the game if they’re being negative or otherwise making you uneasy. Every platform has a way to block and report users. For example, it’s simple to block users on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch systems—you can do this by searching for the player’s profile and then selecting “Block”.
10. Review your settings
As soon as you get a new gaming console or try a new game, review the privacy and security settings and set them to your comfort level. Remember, many game makers default to the least secure settings, and you shouldn’t assume those default settings are configured to what you would like. Your game might default to sharing your behavior and location data with the manufacturer, for example. Think about what sort of data you’re comfortable with sharing.
Online gaming can be a fun way to spend your time, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks involved. By following these 10 tips, you can help protect yourself from hackers and cybercriminals and safely enjoy your gaming experience.
Remember, always be cautious about what information you share online and be wary of any suspicious links or attachments. If you ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe while gaming, be sure to report it to a trusted adult. Following these precautions will help ensure your online gaming experience is a safe and positive one!
5 ways to protect your online presence
Every day, it seems like we hear about new or emerging internet scams. As helpful as the internet can be, the horror stories tend to cast a dark cloud. But, with a few simple precautions, you can still use the internet safely. Here are five easy tips you can implement to protect your online presence.
1. Enable two-step authentication
Also known as multi- or two-factor authentication (MFA) or login approval, two-step verification provides an extra layer of security beyond your username and password to protect against account hijacking. When using this security feature, you will log in using your password and then be prompted to verify your identity again. This second verification is usually done via a biometric (fingerprint or face scan), security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device.
Many websites and companies offer two-step verification, and they make it easy to set up this second layer—usually found in the settings section of your account. Using two-step authentication can help you feel more secure, especially for sites containing your financial information, like online banking.
2. Check a site’s SSL certificate
Whenever you’re shopping online and entering credit card or bank information, it’s important to make sure that website is secured to protect against hackers trying to steal your information. You can find out if a website is secure by checking its SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certification. While this process sounds complicated, it’s actually one of the simplest and quickest things to do for your online security.
When on a website, check the URL. Does it start with “http://” or “https://”? If you notice an “s” at the end, that means your connection is encrypted and secure. Any data you enter is safely sent to the website. However, not all sites have SSL certification. They may be fine to browse, but avoid sharing any financial or personal information on websites without this added layer of security.
3. Don’t save financial information on shopping platforms
Many shopping sites let you save your credit card information in your online account. This setup makes it easier to make purchases in the future, as your billing and shipping addresses and credit card information are stored. However, if you can access this information, so can hackers. Rather than store your credit cards and addresses in your accounts, spend the extra minute to enter your information each time you make a purchase.
Even sites with SSL certification can be hacked. While there may not be a way yet to completely safeguard your data from hackers if you shop online, you can secure your financial information better by removing it altogether from shopping sites.
4. Be careful who you trust
Catfishing has made headlines numerous times in the last few years, and this online scam doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon. Catfishing happens when a person sets up a fake online profile—usually on social media or dating sites—and targets people with the goal of asking for money.
Catfishers are in it for the long game and may try to strike up an online relationship for months before asking for money. The losses can be extreme, averaging more than $15,000 per victim. To avoid catfishing, don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know and never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. If a situation ever feels suspicious, trust your gut and cut off contact with that individual.
5. Create strong, unique passwords
Whether it’s your social media or online banking accounts, it’s important to use strong, unique passwords. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to constantly change your passwords (unless you notice unauthorized access or your account is part of a data breach). But, it’s recommended to avoid reusing the same password across different accounts.
Make your password a sentence: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long and a combination of upper- and lowercase numbers, letters, and special characters. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “Il0v3c0untrymu$ic!”).
Protecting your online presence is essential in today’s digital world. Following these five simple tips can help you protect your online presence and safeguard your personal information from hackers and scammers, and minimize your risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime.
Even if you take all the necessary precautions, it’s important to be aware of the latest online scams and threats. Stay informed by reading security blogs and articles, and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities. By working together, we can create a safer online experience for everyone.
How to protect your mobile devices
That smartphone in your pocket, the tablet on your coffee table, or that laptop on your desk contains practically everything there is to know about you, your friends, and your family. This includes contact information, photos, and even location data. Because of this, your mobile devices need safeguarding. We have a few simple security precautions you can follow to ensure you enjoy your mobile tech with peace of mind.
Keep a clean mobile machine
Update software and security programs on all devices
Having the most up-to-date mobile security software, web browser, operating system, and apps is the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Always keep your software updated when new updates become available, and only download updates from the company that created it.
Remembering to update your software can be a hassle—automatic updates allow you to get the latest security fixes without doing anything. You can let your device do all the work when newer software or app versions are available.
Delete apps when done
Many of us download apps for specific purposes, such as planning vacations, and have no use for them later. You might also lose interest or need for certain apps. Delete any apps and accounts you no longer use or need. Doing so will help manage your digital footprint, plus ensure you’re protected from cybercriminals and spam marketers or left off of mailing lists.
Shield your information
Secure your devices
Use strong passphrases, passcodes, PINs, or other features like facial identification to lock your devices. These passwords are your first level of defense if your device is lost or stolen. Avoid using sequential letters or numbers, like “qwerty” or “1234.”
Treat personal information like it’s money
Information about you, such as what you search for online or where you live, has value—just like money. Think about what services or people request that information and how it’s collected through apps and websites before providing it.
The National Cybersecurity Alliance has a tool that compiles privacy-setting information for most digital providers. You can usually limit what data these services collect about you, plus see what information has already been collected.
Own your online presence
Use security and privacy settings on websites and apps, especially social media platforms, to manage what is shared about you and who sees it. Regularly monitor privacy settings to ensure they’re set to your preference.
Even if your profiles or apps are on total lockdown, you should still watch what you post. Avoid posting personal information on social networking sites, and get in the habit of occasionally cleaning up your friend list.
Connect with caution
Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when not in use
Some physical stores and locations look for devices with WiFi or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you’re within range. Cybercriminals can use this technology, too. Disable WiFi and Bluetooth when you aren’t using it.
Get savvy about WiFi hotspots
Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, so anyone could potentially see what you’re doing on your laptop or smartphone while you’re connected. Limit what you do on public WiFi, and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) or a personal/mobile hotspot if you need a more secure connection.
VPNs encrypt your online traffic and anonymize your location so you can browse securely. Even if your traffic is intercepted, hackers can’t view your activity.
When in doubt, don’t respond
Fraudulent text messages, calls, and voicemails—known as vishing—have become extremely common, especially with the rise of AI. Cybercriminals can change how caller ID appears, for example pretending to be someone from your bank, or they can mimic a loved one’s voice, faking that they’re in an emergency and need money immediately.
Like emails, mobile requests for personal data or immediate action are almost always scams. Treat spammy text messages and phone calls as you’d treat email spam—block and report.
Your personal information is at your fingertips, and it’s crucial to make sure you’re covered if it falls into the wrong hands. Following the above guidelines will ensure you can enjoy your phone or tablet worry-free. This is part of our ongoing cybersecurity series and how you can protect yourself in today’s digital age. For more educational tools, visit our resource center.