Lately, it’s hard to pick up a newspaper without reading about a company getting hacked. From Facebook to Google, it seems that even the most resilient firewalls can’t withstand the devious tricks of today’s hackers. But, don’t let the threat of security breaches scare you from taking advantage of online bill payment. Implement these tips to continue to manage your accounts and pay your bills with ease while staying safe online.
1. Get Creative With Passwords. Avoid using passwords like “123456” and “abc123” for your accounts. Instead, use passwords that combine capital and lowercase letters as well as numbers and punctuation symbols. Refrain from using the same password for every account, and change these passwords at least once a year.
2. Protect Against Viruses. It’s not enough just to install anti-virus software and firewalls onto your computer. You’ll also have to update your programs regularly and manually run scans.
3. Avoid Spam. Online ads congratulating you for being the millionth winner and pop ups offering free vacations are crawling with viruses. Don’t fall prey to these traps.
4. Personalize Your PC. Set your computer so that it goes to sleep after a certain period of inactivity and can only be logged into with a password. This will prevent people from accessing your computer while you are away.
5. Update Software. Software companies are always on the alert for possible security breaches in their system. As a result, they come up with updates to protect against vulnerabilities. Make sure to update your computer with the latest software.
6. Delete Unknown Emails. If you receive emails from unknown senders with strange subject lines, don’t open them and delete them right away. Emails are the perfect vehicles for attaching viruses. Never give your account information over email. Banks will not ask to verify your account number through email, and these emails are most likely dangerous. If you are unsure about an email from your bank, call them to double check.
Alexa Von Tobel is the founder and CEO of LearnVest, the leading personal finance site for women.