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Cybersecurity do’s and don’ts for the upcoming year.

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The new year may bring new threats. Here’s how to stay a step ahead.

Do secure your home gadgets.

Wireless-enabled home gadgets — connected lighting, smart thermostatscontentIntroOneand the like — were all the rage this holiday season. 2017 promises tocontentIntroOnebe a big growth year for these types of devices, but that also meanscontentIntroOnehackers and thieves will be figuring out how to use them to accesscontentIntroOnevaluable private information. Make sure you’re using a secure passwordcontentIntroOnefor your home Wi-Fi and that you’re always updating software to thecontentIntroOnelatest version.

Don’t click.

Think those suspicious fake emails are a thing of 2016? Think again.contentIntroOnePhishing is still a huge threat and the criminals perpetrating thesecontentIntroOnecrimes are getting better at what they do. If you get an email sayingcontentIntroOneit’s from your bank, the government, or another official-seeming source,contentIntroOnebe very suspicious. The best policy is to stop, don’t click, and verifycontentIntroOnethrough official channels (calling the number on the back of your card,contentIntroOnefinding contact information from official government websites, etc.).contentIntroOneYes, this can be a minor hassle, but all it takes is one successfulcontentIntroOnephishing attempt to create a major data-exposure nightmare.

Do use multi-factor authentication.

What in the world is multi-factor authentication, you ask? It’s reallycontentIntroOnepretty simple, and it’s becoming more and more standard for webcontentIntroOneaccounts. Essentially, it means that you can’t log into your onlinecontentIntroOneaccount with just a password. Typically you’ll also need to answercontentIntroOnesecurity questions, enter a temporary code sent to another device (likecontentIntroOneyour phone) or use a separate app to verify you’re actually you. AscontentIntroOnecriminals get smarter and data gets more vulnerable, multi-factorcontentIntroOneauthentication will become the norm, rather than just an extra layer ofcontentIntroOnesecurity.

Don’t use unsecured public Wi-Fi.

As you’re using your smartphone or computer out and about, you may becontentIntroOnetempted to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot, free for public use. After all,contentIntroOnewho can argue with “free,” especially since data plans are getting morecontentIntroOneexpensive and data demands more extensive. But if that free hotspot iscontentIntroOneunsecured and you connect your phone to it, nearby hackers could helpcontentIntroOnethemselves to your data — websites visited, messages and apps with savedcontentIntroOnepasswords. For this reason, it’s best to avoid public, unsecuredcontentIntroOnenetworks and connect cautiously when there is security.

2017 promises to be an exciting year for tech gadgets and gear. JustcontentIntroOneremember that every connection you make may be an opportunity forcontentIntroOnecriminals.

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