How to Stay Safe Online

Service member on his tablet.

From paying bills to planning your next vacation, technology lets you do many things online. Whether you're shopping, banking, or simply keeping in touch with friends and family, it is likely that you're sharing data that could be harmful if it ended up in the wrong hands. Below are five key tips in protecting yourself and your family while navigating the financial section of the cyber world.

  1. Don't use public computers to access sensitive information. Though computers at libraries or Internet kiosks offer quick convenience, you should be aware of the information that you plug into them. While most people understand you shouldn't access private and financial information on a public computer, social media use is often overlooked. Many social media accounts today are used for both personal and professional contacts, and if your information falls into the wrong hands there could be devastating consequences. It is best to wait and use a secure computer, or stick with your mobile device.
  2. WiFi network access, while amazing, could be costly if you're not careful. Before you use free public Internet, double check that you're logging into a legitimate network. Today's technology driven world has helped revolutionize the way we think about productivity. Coffee shops have become mobile offices, and people are able to jump online and send information from just about anywhere. The thing is, even when you're on your own device, there are ways to access your information through your network connection. Once you are sure of the network, limit the amount of information you send/receive while on the Internet. Also, being aware of small things like discretely entering your pin, or making sure that no one can view your screen are important as well.
  3. Use your own computer and network, making sure that your operating system, antivirus and firewall protection are updated. Whenever possible, it is best to use your own devices and network. Many mobile service providers will offer "mobile as network" or "hotspot" options that can be added to your phone plan. Also make sure that protection software and firewalls are routinely updated as well as your passwords. Use security settings that are suitable for your safety.
  4. Use your myPay option as a Department of Defense military and civilian employee. Try keeping your banking activity to myPay. Using your work computer, you can use myPay's common access card login feature, which is safer, as the DoD network will encrypt information to and from your computer making it harder for someone to randomly access.
  5. Choose safer ways of paying online. Check the level of fraud protection provided before you transfer money online. Whether it be your financial institution, your credit card company, or another other third-party service provider there will be a certain level of fraud protection provided. Whenever possible, avoid linking online payments directly to a checking or savings account, as these tend to have the least amount of protection. If you think someone is using your personal information, take action immediately.

Advancements in technology and online capability have revolutionized the way we interact with the world. With these changes come the need to increase our awareness and security. Keep close tabs on what you share to safeguard your personal information. Play it smart, and remember to always protect yourself.


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