Improve Your Digital Defenses With These Cybersafe Tips | Capital Group


SEPTEMBER 13, 2017

Improve Your Digital Defenses ― Turn These Cybersafe Tips Into Habits

While technology has made our lives easier in countless ways, it’s exposed us to bolder and more sophisticated digital threats by the day.

The most serious threat we face is the exposure of sensitive data such as financial or medical records, which can leave you susceptible to credit card fraud or identity theft, and “ransomware,” a form of malware that enables hackers to lock you out of your own computer. Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to significantly improve your digital defenses. Here are some basic tips:

Turn on Automatic Updates for Your Computer and Cell Phone

Running the latest version of an operating system, with the most current electronic protections, will help protect you against new threats. You should also make certain that third-party browsers such as Google Chrome and applications such as Adobe Flash are kept up-to-date.

Install the Latest Antivirus Software to Guard Against Malware

This software is essential in guarding against malware that hackers use to gain illicit entry to our devices. Among the better known purveyors of antivirus packages are Symantec and McAfee. There are many free offerings from providers such as AVG, Avast and Avira.

Make Passwords Complex and Difficult to Guess

That means no names, birth dates or easily identifiable strings of letters or numbers. So, make passwords long ― ideally at least a dozen characters ― and never use the same password on more than one site.

Keep Careful Track of Passwords

By now, it’s well known that passwords are essential for devices, e-mail and websites. It doesn’t matter how good your memory is ― it’s impossible to remember all of your passwords, so you need a reliable way to store them.

A password manager is a good option to securely store them, but there are options to consider:

  • Online password manager ― a website that stores passwords and is typically accessible from an app. You type in a master password to gain access to other passwords. The advantage to this is it’s portable and can be accessed from any device and anywhere. Some of the more popular options are 1Password, Dashlane and LastPass.
  • Encrypted program ― a program that lives on your phone or computer. The downside is that passwords kept on, for example, a home desktop computer can’t be accessed when you’re elsewhere. Among the better-known offerings is Password Safe.
  • Old-fashioned paper and pen ― write passwords down and keep them in a secure location (e.g., locked drawer or safe).


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Develop Good Digital Habits

It’s important to develop good digital habits. Avoid sharing personal details on social media. Also, be alert to phishing scams via e-mail. Unfortunately, these imposter e-mails look authentic and may seem to come from a friend or a company you are familiar with. Follow these tips to help you stay safe:

  • If an e-mail directs you to a website, hover over the link with your cursor to see whether it matches the supposed destination, or simply disregard the link altogether and sign on to the website itself.
  • If you use public Wi-Fi, install a virtual private network (VPN) app on your mobile device to encrypt your communications. Delete the public Wi-Fi network from your phone after you’ve disconnected. At home, make sure your wireless service is secured with a strong password.

Back Up Important Files

In addition to all these precautions, be sure to back up your data to a thumb drive or external hard drive, perhaps supplemented by a cloud-based service. This safeguard will protect you against security problems, as well as a sudden glitch in an internal hard drive.

These measures can go a long way toward boosting your digital defenses. Most of them take only a few minutes to implement. Given the potential cost and inconvenience that a security breach can pose, it’s wise to make your devices as safe as they can be.

Investments are not FDIC-insured, nor are they deposits of or guaranteed by a bank or any other entity, so they may lose value.

Investors should carefully consider investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. This and other important information is contained in the fund prospectuses and summary prospectuses, which can be obtained from a financial professional and should be read carefully before investing. 

This content, developed by Capital Group, home of American Funds, should not be used as a primary basis for investment decisions and is not intended to serve as impartial investment or fiduciary advice.