CYBER SAFETY: How to make sure you’re really safe online

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – The web is at our fingertips all day, every day.

In fact, many would probably agree that we rely on that source of technology for almost everything but while it’s convenient, it’s also concerning.

“The convenience sometimes outweighs security,” said Luke Thelen; Cyber Expert.

Thelen works to keep our state’s network safe with the Michigan State Police Incident Response Team.

He says when it comes to your safety, online scams happen more often than we might think.

“It is part of the life that we live in so it’s about us adapting to what is happening in our daily lives,” Thelen stated.

Thelen says it’s all about protecting yourself and when it comes to steps like passwords, he recommends creating different combinations for everything.

“I suggest not storing passwords in a browser but there are such things called a ‘password manager’,” said Thelen.

A “password manager” is a tool used to help keep track of all your passwords and Thelen says “Wikipedia” has a page that lists several of them.

But why not just click “yes” when Google or Yahoo offer to remember your password for you? As easy as that might be, cyber expert Thomas Holt says it’s a bad idea.

“Your browser can be a point of attack for a computer hacker or a cyber-criminal so if you have all your passwords stored in your web browser, if your browser ever gets compromised all that data gets lost, said Holt.

Holt is a professor in the Criminal Justice program at MSU and he says when it comes to saving personal information online including your credit card numbers, companies like Amazon or Itunes are relatively secure, but it’s retail stores you should be skeptical of because if they get hacked, there’s no telling where your financial information will go.

Speaking of online shopping, Holt says you should stay cautious of connecting to public Wi-Fi as well.

He says surfing the web is generally ok, but checking your bank account or snagging those deals on the web through an unsecure network could put you and your money at risk.

“Securing your home network is good, using secured networks when you’re at someone’s home or you’re at a friend’s house or something like that is ideal…only use open Wi-Fi points when you have to,” Holt stated.

“Do use it with extreme caution, you never know who’s essentially ‘sniffing the traffic’ is what it’s called or monitoring what you’re doing,” said Thelen.

While cyber experts say online scams surround us every day, they also say it’s important to stay vigilant and take the precautions necessary so you don’t become a hacker’s next victim.

“It’s important because it’s not just about yourself, but it’s about those around you…when you think about personal security, it affects not only you but individuals who you come into contact with, the same is true with your computer,” Holt added.

“Most of the time if something looks fishy just stay away,” said Thelen.

Experts say while scammers prey on any age group, teens or young adults are more affected because they’re more trusting of information.

If you’ve been a victim of an online scam, we’ve posted a link to the “Seen on 6” section of our website with resources you can contact.

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