4 Simple Ways to Keep Your Personal Information Safe Online

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the National Institute for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS) wants to help you do your part and #becybersmart. Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of cyber crime.


We can take care of many daily tasks with the help of the Internet, including banking, shopping, and managing medical records, and all of these activities require us to share our PII online. First, if you’re given the option to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA), take advantage of the opportunity. This feature helps to make sure that your PII is protected. It’s also a good idea to use longer passwords made up of a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Try to vary the passwords you use between accounts. This will make it more difficult for cyber criminals to access your PII.


Nearly half of the world’s population uses some form of social media today, and while it’s a great way to stay connected, it can also lead to your personal information falling into the wrong hands. Check your privacy settings and make sure you are only sharing information with people and groups you trust. Never share account numbers, Social Security numbers, or home addresses on social media. This information can allow others to open accounts in your name and steal your identity.


More people are working from home now than ever before, and it’s important to make sure that sensitive work-related data is safe online. Be cautious about sharing personal information on any unsecured network. This allows others to intercept the data if they gain access to your network. Keep all software on your devices up-to-date to be sure you have the latest security upgrades. If you receive a suspicious email message, delete it immediately and don’t click on any included links.

Work-from-home scams have also become more common today. If a work-from-home job opportunity doesn’t give you the option to talk to a real person before signing up, or asks you to pay up-front for training, it’s likely not a legitimate opportunity. Be sure to research any company thoroughly before signing on to a work-from-home employment opportunity.


Phishing attacks use websites or emails to put malware or viruses onto your device that can collect your personal information. These attacks often seem to come from reputable sources via professional-looking emails that ask for personal information. Sometimes these emails indicate that one of your accounts has been compromised, that your account information needs to be verified, or even that the IRS is in need of information related to your taxes. Responding to the request or clicking a link in the message gives the sender access to your device and the ability to hack into your accounts.

The best way to avoid these attacks is to be wary of emails from unfamiliar senders that ask for personal information. If you’re not sure if the email is real, contact the sending company directly to verify its legitimacy. Often, phishing scams tell you that you need to act quickly to protect the security of your personal information. Don’t let this sense of urgency fool you. Call your financial institution or whatever company claims to have sent the message to find out what’s really going on.

Identity theft is another common scam, and there are a few signs you can look for to determine if you might be a victim. Suspicious charges on your credit card, receiving items in the mail you didn’t order, or finding accounts open in your name that you didn’t set up are possible signs that someone has stolen your identity.

At HFCU, we want to help our members to be financially educated, which includes providing you with the information you need in order to #becybersmart. If you’d like to learn more, visit the NICCS Cybersecurity Awareness Month website for more information.