(BPT) - Resourceful thieves and cybercriminals continue to find new ways to hack U.S. consumers’ sensitive personal information. Dumpster diving, stolen or lost wallets and mail fraud should still be concerns, but the digital age of tablets, smartphones, PCs and Wi-Fi networks leaves people more vulnerable than ever.
Have you ever stored credit card information on your phone for added convenience to make payments in a checkout lane? Do you ever store passwords in apps to transfer funds between accounts? And what’s to keep hackers from accessing a wireless network you check your email on while you’re grabbing a quick cup of coffee?
”More than 15.4 million people a year will experience identity theft, with an average loss of more than $1,000,” said Jane Li, Mercury Insurance’s director of product management. “When one access point closes due to added levels of security, cyberattackers find another. Insurance companies like Mercury provide services that allow homeowners and renters to enjoy the convenience of accessing their connected devices at home and on the go, while also helping to protect customers from the potentially devastating effects of criminal infiltration, cyberextortion and identity theft.”
The following five do’s and don’ts can help stop criminals in their tracks and protect your connected devices, as well as your electronic identity.
Li recommends homeowners and renters speak with their local insurance agent to learn more about the endorsements they may be able to add to existing policies to help safeguard their finances if their identities are compromised or connected devices are attacked.
“It can be daunting to try to regain your financial footing if a criminal takes advantage of you,” said Li. “Insurance exists to help protect consumers from unexpected events and, in this case, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
(BPT) - As the pace of technology advances, cybersecurity threats do, too. Data breaches, identity theft, phishing and malware make headlines seemingly every day. Internet-connected devices, social media, digital assistants and mobile apps have become indispensable in our everyday lives, but their connectedness makes us increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Recent reports estimate that damages relating to cybercrime are expected to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021.
“It’s impossible to predict when you will be affected by cybercrime,” says Bashar Abouseido, chief information security officer for Charles Schwab Corp. “The best defense is to stay informed.”
It can be helpful to envision your computer and digital devices as a house where you store your personal data. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to make sure your digital house is secure. The first step is to understand the ways cybercriminals may attempt to access your data.
Types of cybercrimes
Data breaches occur when there is unauthorized access to sensitive personal information. These incidents often make headline news and can affect large numbers of consumers.
Malicious software, also known as malware, spyware, ransomware and viruses, refers to software programs designed with the purpose of gaining unauthorized access to a mobile app, digital device or computer.
Phishing is one of the most common forms of online fraud and cybercrime. Cybercriminals try to lure you with a fake email sent from what they have designed to appear to be a trusted source or contact that encourages you to click a link or open an attachment in order to extract personal account information.
5 tips to protect your digital house
1. Remodel your digital house: Installing updates is an essential first step.
Think of system updates as basic maintenance to your digital house that is keeping your personal data safe. It can be annoying to see those system update prompts on your computer or mobile device, but software developers are constantly improving their software to repel the latest malware. By keeping your operating system and apps updated, you are making sure that your digital house is as secure as possible.
2. Don’t have a leaky house: Be wary of public Wi-Fi networks.
Using public — and often free — Wi-Fi networks is convenient, but it is a common entry point for criminals to use malware to infect your devices and apps. Use only networks you trust or use your own personal Wi-Fi hotspot if you have one. Never update your devices when you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network.
3. Keep your keys secure: Choose unique access credentials.
Access credentials — usernames and passwords — are the keys that keep your digital house safe and secure. Select credentials that are unique and don’t include personal identifying information such as a name, address or birthday. For added protection, choose two-step verification to access critical online accounts for your banking, retirement or investment accounts. Two-step verification is typically a key or another code provided by the service provider in addition to your primary access credentials to verify your identity.
4. Secure doors and windows: Use only secure websites and app stores.
Web browsers and app stores are like the doors and windows in your digital house. Make sure they are secure by using web addresses that start with “https” and downloading apps only from the Apple App Store, Microsoft Store and Google Play store.
5. Don’t open that door: Delete suspicious emails.
That knock on your cyber front door is the sound of a cybercriminal sending you a phishing email. Be suspicious of emails that come from unknown senders. Use your cursor to hover over questionable links and email addresses to reveal the true identity of the link or sender. When in doubt, don’t click on any links or open any attachments and delete the email immediately.
For more information on more ways to educate and protect yourself from cybercrimes, visit SchwabSafe.
We all know that our military personnel works hard to keep the United States and help keep the world safe. However, it’s easy for the general public to take advantage of the technology that the military has brought about for granted. These three ways that military technology has made the world safer for all of us.
Bollards Protect People and Property
Most people have seen bollards used in public but are unaware of the role they play in public safety. Even though these posts may seem decorative in nature, they keep vehicles away from pedestrians and buildings in a certain area. These posts can be very valuable in preventing further damage during an accident. Bollards have major importance in preventing vehicular terrorist attacks that involve ramming. According to Atlas Security, the most deadly vehicular attack was the Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, which killed more than 80 people. With such attacks remaining a threat, the role that these structures can play in preventing further such attacks is vital.
Sensors Protect Soldiers and Civilians
According to The Heritage Foundation, sensors have played an important part in guiding weapons and detecting hostile forces. Drones are an example of how sensors help provide information that command centers and troops in the field need. One of the outcomes of using this technology is keeping more soldiers and other service members safe. Another major impact that these technology systems offer is helping to protect civilians from attacks. A real-life application of this technology is in the GPS systems that many electronics use today. Information that these systems collect makes it easier to relay necessary information to first responders, as an example.
Advanced Communication Systems Protect Everyone
According to the Defense Systems blog, military operations have always involved an important emphasis on communications. Both military members and civilians are at risk when communications systems are inadequate. Advanced communications systems should prevent interference from hackers to prevent the disruption that such threats can cause. One example of advanced communications that everyone can identify with is the Internet. Even though most civilians don't use the same security level online as the military, the Internet stands out as an example of a communications system that has much of its origins in the military.
Technology originally used in the military has done a lot to keep people both in the US and around the world safe. The more we see how this technology is used in everyday life, the more we can appreciate its importance.
Here’s another article you might like: Why Veterans Make the Best Entrepreneurs
In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices. These tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
5 Ways to Boost Home Wi-Fi
(Family Features) In today’s connected world, it’s almost unthinkable to function without an internet connection, and for practical purposes most households need wireless connectivity for everyone to fully enjoy their internet-enabled devices, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, televisions, thermostats, security cameras and even refrigerators.
However, with the growing number of devices requiring access to your network, and in some cases even the quality of the connection itself, there can be limitations to your Wi-Fi network’s performance. The problem can be compounded by the reality that increased reliance on Wi-Fi networks isn’t just in your own home or office, it’s around the globe.
Some groups, such as WifiForward, are advocating for increased connectivity across America, including greater access to unlicensed spectrum, which are radio frequencies that consumers can use for a wide range of purposes, including Wi-Fi. Ultimately, greater access to unlicensed spectrum can result in benefits like more reliable connections and super-fast “Gigabit Wi-Fi,” as well as cost-effective wireless broadband for unconnected urban and rural areas.
In the meantime, these tips may help boost the quality and speed of your home Wi-Fi network.
Use up-to-date Wi-Fi technologies. It won’t matter what other steps you take to improve your network performance if you’re using old technology. Be sure your devices and router are all compatible with the latest network capabilities. Equipment that runs the latest Wi-Fi standard, 802.11ac, is ideal if you’re using multiple devices.
Improve network security. Be sure to regularly update your password and enable WPA2 encryption, which offers greater security.
Know that location matters. Placing your router in an open, centralized area is likely to create a better access point throughout the house. Be wary of walls and other obstructions than can hinder a clear signal transmission throughout the house. An ethernet cable and cable clips are all you need to move your router from its connecting point to a more signal-friendly location.
Reboot your router regularly. Like many devices, an occasional reboot can help improve function. A router that is continually running is processing a great deal of data and even in normal operation some data can become corrupt. A reboot can dump those errors and allow you to resume operations with a clean slate, so to speak.
Update your connected devices. Each device that is actively connected to your network depletes available bandwidth. When a device’s operating system is out-of-date, it can become a data hog, impacting the performance of the other devices you have connected in your home. Check regularly for software and connectivity updates to improve speeds and maximize your experience.
Learn more about constraints of the nation’s current Wi-Fi airwaves and possible solutions at WifiForward.org.
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(BPT) - How much data do you really need on your monthly cellular plan? Buy too much and you're simply wasting money. Buy too little and you could end up socked with overage fees, or find your data speeds slowed significantly.
The average U.S. wireless customer consumes about 1.8 gigabytes (GB) of data each month, far below what's included in many standard wireless plans. As a result, many carriers are beginning to shift away from rigidly structured monthly data allowances. Consumer Cellular, for instance, offers no-contract plans tailored to the 50-plus crowd that allow you to change your data plan whenever you need, without paying any additional fees.
Whether you're a heavy or a light user, the data plan you choose represents a significant part of your investment in wireless service. By understanding some of the basics, as well as the potential pitfalls involved, you're sure to find the plan that's right for you.
How it's measured
Anytime you send email, download a photo, stream video, view a web page, or post on social media, your phone is sending or receiving data. A megabyte (MB) and the larger gigabyte (GB) are the units used for measuring data.
It's hard to determine exactly how much data an activity consumes, since file sizes and download times can vary significantly. As a general rule, for most cellphones, one megabyte of data is typically required to perform each of these tasks:
* Sending or receiving 50 emails, without attachments;
* Streaming 2 minutes of music;
* Viewing one web page;
* Posting three photos to your Facebook page;
* Watching 30 seconds of video on YouTube.
One gigabyte, equal to 1,000 megabytes, is consumed by:
* Sending or receiving 50,000 emails (without attachments);
* Streaming 33 hours of music;
* Viewing 1,000 web pages;
* Posting 2,800 photos to your Facebook page;
* Watching more than 8 hours of video on YouTube.
Tracking your usage
The best way to accurately assess your cellular data use is to review your monthly bill, which provides precise details about your utilization. Most carriers now even offer mobile account management apps so you can keep tabs right from your phone. This will give you a feel for how much you're actually consuming, and let you develop an accurate forecast for the future.
In addition, both smartphone and iPhone models give you the ability to track overall usage, as well as the individual usage of specific apps, right from the Settings menu on your phone. You can choose to receive usage alert notifications from your carrier, either by text or email. These are helpful reminders that are triggered when you've used certain percentages of your monthly allotment of data. It helps to eliminate surprises and avoid running over your plan.
Unlimited has its limits
Regardless of how closely you track it, your data needs can fluctuate wildly from month to month. This is often due more to life events than technology; you might be in more places with Wi-Fi access one month versus the next. As a result, some cellular companies will push you to sign up for plans with a higher data cap, including expensive "unlimited" plans.
Like an all-you-can-eat buffet, most "unlimited" plans are more enticing than practical. In fact, some carriers promising "unlimited data" will actually limit your high-speed data to just a couple of gigabytes per month. Once you use up that allotment, you'll have unlimited access, but it's at much slower speeds. This makes it more difficult to load pages quickly, or to stream video, even though you're paying a premium for "unlimited" access.
The choice is always yours
Cellular competition is fierce, so make sure you get what you pay for. Before you buy an unlimited plan, shop around. You may very well find a less costly plan that offers far more data than you're likely to use.
Ultimately, your choice will be driven by the type of data user you are, or at least the one you plan to be. Invest time in a little analysis of your current habits. You'll come away with the information you need to find the plan that fits both your needs and your budget.
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