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10 Ways to Foil Hackers Hunting Your Personal Info

Malware, phishing, and spam—oh my! Use these tips to beef up your personal cybersecurity.

Meeting planners are becoming aware of just how devastating online threats can be to their meeting, their attendees, and their organization. Whether a hacker is looking to crack your registration database and steal your attendees’ personal information, or to lock your attendees out of their rooms until you pay a ransom (yes, that really happened to a hotel recently), the consequences could be dramatic—and expensive. MaryAnne Bobrow, CMP, CMM, CAE, of Bobrow and Associates, outlined both the risks and what you can do about them in a recent MeetingsNet webinar on cybersecurity.

When it comes to our personal cybersecurity, we know we should take more precautions, but all too often we don’t. Here are 10 things Bobrow said we all should be doing now to safeguard ourselves online.

 1. Have complicated, unique, and difficult-to-crack passwords. “That means no Fluffys,” said Bobrow. Names of pets, children, and alma maters are all too easy to crack for even the laziest cybercriminal.

2. Never reuse a password. Yes, it’s not easy to remember the passwords you set for every secure site you visit, but reusing passwords across the web just makes it that much easier to crack your accounts.

3. Update your passwords regularly.

4. Don’t use “dictionary words”—anything that can be correlated directly to you as a person—as passwords. Bobrow explained that it’s all too easy to find your pet’s name or your street address through social media or a simple Google search. “I used to think I had an unlisted phone number—those don’t exist anymore,” she said.

5. Tighten your security and privacy settings. Always set these to the highest level offered.

6. Enable two-factor authentication whenever it’s offered. Two-factor authentication requires a password and user name, and also something only a user can access—such as a code emailed to a cellphone—or information that only you would know.

7. Don’t store passwords in your browser. “I know everybody tells you they have a great way to do it that will make your life simple, but don’t do it,” said Bobrow. “Google is your friend, but not when it comes to storing passwords. If [a site] asks you [if you want it to store your password so you don’t have to re-enter it], always say no. Use a secure program to store your passwords instead.

8. Install a security system.

9. Always install updates when you are prompted to do so by your vendor—after first verifying that the notice in fact did come from your vendor.

10. Never click on any link unless you are sure it’s virus-free.


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