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Common Cyber Vulnerabilities: How to Stay Protected Online

29 March 2019 Resources

If you run a household in 2019 you likely use the internet, computers, or other digital media and you may be susceptible to cybercrime. We look for ways to do more for our clients, like helping you prevent issues from happening in the ­first place.

That’s why we’ve highlighted six of the most common cyber vulnerabilities and provided tips for how to stay protected online. This includes protecting your identity, your money, and your family.


Social Media

With over 2.7 billion people actively using social media – that’s 37% of the world’s population – it’s no wonder cybercriminals are targeting these networks.

How to stay protected online:

  • Only Share information, posts and pictures with your inner circle – actual friends and family
  • Remove yourself from public searches
  • Be wary of third-party apps. While they can provide entertainment and functionality some will also install malware and viruses on your system
  • Use strong passwords. Try turning a sentence into a password by using the first letter of each word in a sentence you can remember ie: if the sentence is “when I was 7,my sister threw my stuffed rabbit in the toilet,” your password would be “WIw7,mstmsritt”


With 90% of teens online and 73% using social networks, it’s not surprising that bullies have taken to cyberspace.

How to protect your kids from cyberbullies:

  • Monitor your kids’ cell phone activity with an app like TeenSafe
  • Help them understand your perspective- that you are keeping them safe, not invading their privacy.
  • Set limits and boundaries on their use of mobile devices
  • Lead by example- disconnect and give them your full attention

Phishing Scams

People spend an average of 3 hours a day checking personal email. You might be surprised to learn how many of those emails are phishing scams, tricking you into clicking on a malicious attachment or website.

When it comes to phishing emails, don’t click the link or email itself if:

  • It seems urgent for no reason
  • Is a request from someone you don’t know personally or don’t do business with
  • You spot poor grammar, spelling or syntax- when means it’s not coming from a reliable or professional source
  • You hover over the link and the URL doesn’t mat the description of the link.
  • It asks for sensitive information

For more information on identifying phishing scams, and what to do after, check out our blog, “Watch out for Phishing Scams in Your Work E-mails.”

Crimes Involving Electronics

These days nearly everyone is online. That means computers and networks are a great way for cyber criminals to access your personal information or sensitive data. A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds!

How to protect your devices:

  • Password protect every device you have
  • Install and regularly update antivirus and antimalware security software
  • Power down then you’re not using your computer
  • Physically remove all storage devices before disposing of your computer

How to protect your network:

  • Always use encryption (WPA or WEP) to secure your network and wireless router
  • Set wireless to no-broadcast
  • Avoid using public networks and disable Wi-Fi access on your device when not in use.

Smart Toys and Homes

As our world becomes more interconnected, we need to look beyond the obvious cyber targets to things in our everyday lives. This includes smart gadgets for the home and smart toys for the kids.

How to stay protected online:

  • Do your research – Google the product to look for red flags about security or privacy
  • Teach your children what types of information are okay to share with their smart toys – and turn the toys off if they’re not in use.
  • Keep an eye on how your child uses the smart toy
  • Turn it off during private discussions
  • Be sure to change the default password and update the software regularly


Ransomware is an attack on your computer or network that locks up or encrypts your data unless you pay a “ransom.” Experts agree that you should never pay. This is because you probably won’t get your data back anyway. Your best bet is prevention.

How to stay protected online:

  • Back up your data
  • Install antivirus software and update your system regularly
  • Never pay- you will be giving the hackers additional information
  • Get cyber insurance – contact one of our brokers to learn more