Cyber Safe NJ

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs

CYBER SAFETY BASICS

The following tips will help you safeguard the information stored on your computer and other devices.

Each of these tips is covered in greater detail elsewhere on this website, especially under the headings of Preventing Identity Theft and Controlling Your Privacy.

  • Avoid phishing scams: Never act on any email, text message, pop-up window, or other communication that asks you to provide your personal information, click on a link, or open an attachment, unless you recognize the sender, or you requested the information that was sent. Remember that legitimate businesses and government entities will never ask you to provide personal information through an email.
  • Install antivirus software and keep it up to date. Many virus protection programs offer automatic updates.
  • Use a firewall to block suspicious data from entering your computer.
  • Use a variety of smart passwords that incorporate uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. To help keep track of multiple passwords, consider keeping a password notebook or a list on your computer that is password-protected.
  • Maintain more than one email address and designate them for specific uses, such as one email address for online purchases, another for personal correspondence, and another for news feeds. If your e-shopping email is hacked, the personal information in your other emails would still be protected. The use of multiple emails can also help prevent spam. Spam can be more than an annoyance; unwanted emails may contain malware or phishing scams.
  • Regularly delete cookies and other cached or temporary files from your web browser.
  • If you use a wireless router or file-sharing system, be aware that they may leave your computer vulnerable to hackers. Refer to your user's manual or ask your Internet service provider for information on how to secure these systems.
  • If you must provide personal information over the Internet, make sure the website is secure. A secure website uses encryption to protect your information. The two elements that indicate a website uses encryption are the image of a locked padlock, and a URL that begins with "https" rather than "http."
  • Before disposing of your computer, cellphone, printer, scanner, or copy machine, use a "wipe" utility program to overwrite the computer's memory. Simply deleting your personal data or moving it to the "trash" will not make it permanently disappear.
  • To prevent the loss of needed information in case your computer becomes damaged, regularly back up your data on an external hard drive or through a remote backup service such as a cloud computing system.
  • Think twice before sharing information about yourself or others online. Remember that even the most private messages can be accidentally or maliciously shared with others. Also remember that messages can remain visible on web servers and search engines even after they have been deleted.
  • Review the privacy settings and privacy policies of all social networks, blogs, and other venues in which you post online information, and the privacy settings of any mobile apps you use.
  • Consumers who wish to report a suspected incident of cyber fraud can file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Affairs through the Division's main website or by calling 800-242-5846 (toll-free within New Jersey) or 973-504-6200.