In an ever-evolving digital world, ensuring your data is protected is important as ever. Check it out: Everything is a little easier when you have a list of steps to help you accomplish your objective. Here are some things you can do.

Equip your system

Update your computer and mobile device regularly.
Clever hackers uncover vulnerabilities all the time—and providers push patches just as swiftly. Make it a practice to accept automatic updates or at least do a quick version check once a month.

Consider installing antivirus software.
Software industry publications such as ComputerWorld provide a number of well known options for your consideration.

Use smart web/email strategies

Practice password prudence.
Passwords are so precious that there are a few steps to protecting them:

  • Have a strong password that combines letters, numbers, and symbols. Stay away from the most popular password: 123456.
  • Don’t leave your password list lying around near your computer or in your wallet—and don’t label it Passwords in large, friendly letters.
  • No repeating passwords for multiple sites. You could be giving a hacker the keys to your digital kingdom.

Think before you click.
Emails “phishing” for your data often include infected attachments or links to fake websites. Don’t click on either one, especially if it’s to a financial institution. Instead, call the company (or your Financial Advisor) directly, at the number on your statement or credit card—and not the one in the email.

Contain the number of cookies.
Consider turning on your browser’s cookie-notification option. That way, you can decide whether the cookie is worth accepting. 

Keep your browser pop-up blocker on.
Hold off automatic pop-ups of malware that can divert your visit to a fake website.

Beware what you share

Treat your Social Security Number like a state secret.
Share this number only with the people and institutions you trust the most. If you’re going to enter the number in a website form, confirm the site is legitimate (for example,, not and secure (look for the lock in the address bar).

Watch what sites and information you access on public WiFi.
Public WiFi generally means unsecured WiFi. That means the person sitting a few booths over at your local coffee shop could be snooping on your data surfing. Only access your confidential information at home or through secure virtual private network (VPN).

Protect your credit access

Put on a credit fraud alert.
You can request the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) alert you when your credit report is requested. You’ll still be able to obtain credit; you’ll just have to verify your identity first.

Step up to a credit freeze.
If you need more protection, you can lock down your credit with a freeze so fraudsters can’t apply for credit cards or take out loans in your name. (They will still be able to use a credit card you already have.) You’ll have to request a temporary thaw if you decide to apply for a mortgage, car loan, or other type of credit.

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