Protecting your information and devices is essential in today’s connected world. Updating your device’s software, understanding how to safely navigate public Wi-Fi and browsing on sites that begin with HTTPS are good practices that can help you keep your information secure.
1. Keep your software up to date
The operating systems of your mobile phone, laptop, web browser, apps and smart-home devices all receive critical updates that not only give you new features but critically help improve the security of the device.
Updating your software is a key step you can take to protect your information and also make it harder for those trying to access your device.
How to update your software
- Your mobile device has options that enable you to update your operating system automatically. Make sure you turn this helpful feature on. On Apple´s iPhone, enable automatic updates under Settings > General > Software Update. On Google´s Android operating system, security updates should be automated, but you can check that it´s working by opening Settings > System > Advanced > System Update.
- The three major operating systems (Windows, macOS or Android OS) have automatic updates enabled. These updates include new versions of Microsoft Edge browser and Apple´s Safari. Most third-party Web browsers, including Google´s Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, also update automatically. If you tend to leave your browser open at all times, remember to reboot periodically to get these updates.
- For third-party software and apps, you may need to find and enable a check for updates option in the software settings. For example, smart-home devices such as light bulbs, thermostats, cameras, doorbells can receive updates to the app as well as to the hardware itself. Check the device’s app settings to make sure these updates happen automatically. If you don´t find an automatic-update option, you may have to periodically manually reboot the device (a monthly calendar reminder can help).
- Always download apps and software for your mobile device or laptop from official app stores or websites.
2. Connect securely
Public Wi-Fi can be really helpful for those moments when we need to be connected, but you often won’t know how that Wi-Fi has been configured or who else can be connected to that network. Follow these tips to ensure you connect in a more secure way.
- It´s best practice to use your mobile/cellphone device as a hotspot to keep your connection private (this of course is a good option if it makes sense with your data plan)
- Deactivate the ´connect automatically to Wi-Fi´ option on your mobile device. This will help you control when you want to connect to open public networks.
- When you’re connected to public Wi-Fi it´s good practice to keep your activity to the basics and limit personal shopping or making online banking transactions.
- Lastly, you can use a VPN. A VPN encrypts the data that you send and receive over your Internet connection to protect it others looking to steal passwords and intercept other information. If you tend to travel a lot and connect to public WiFi networks, using a VPN can help keep personal information private.
3. Navigate Securely
- When browsing, ensure you only enter in personal or sensitive information in sites that begin with HTTPS (instead of HTTP). These sites tend to be more secure as the connection on these sites tend to be encrypted and thus the information more protected. The most frequented websites today all begin with HTTPS. For example, your online banking webpage will always start with HTTPS. Be mindful of entering login credentials on websites and always ensure they start with HTTPS.
Depending on the web browser you use, a green pad lock symbol on the left-hand corner of the URL to indicate it´s a protected connection.
When you're on a public network around strangers, you'll want to cut off the features that enable frictionless file sharing on your devices. For iOS, just find AirDrop in the Control Center and turn it off. With this simple trick, no one nearby can send you malicious files that you don't want.