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Safe & Secure - Tips to Minimize the Risks of Cyber Attacks

By Stacey Belser

 Cyber criminals do not discriminate, and the threat is present in almost every facet of our daily life. No matter your age or life stage, it is vital that you keep your information secure. Here are some action steps that you can take today to ensure that you stay safe on the internet. 


Sawston wants to keep your private information as safe as possible. We offer two secure ways to send and receive information. You can utilize our client portal or our encrypted email service to send messages or documents with your sensitive information such as social security numbers, account numbers, and other nonpublic information. Please call us if you are not familiar with using these tools so we can walk you through the process. Sending this via regular email leaves your information at risk. 


The Department of Homeland Security has five tips on how protect yourself and help make the internet safer for you and your family. 

  • Enable stronger authentication. Always enable stronger authentication for an extra layer of security beyond the password that is available on most major email, social media, and financial accounts. Stronger authentication (e.g., multi-factor authentication that can use a one-time code texted to a mobile device) helps verify that a user has authorized access to an online account. 
  • Make your passwords long & strong. Use complex passwords with a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters. Use unique passwords for different accounts. Change your passwords regularly, especially if you believe they have been compromised. 
  • Keep a clean machine. Update the security software, operating system, and web browser on all your internet-connected devices. Keeping your security software up to date will prevent attackers from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities. 
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email and online posts are often the way cyber criminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious (even if you know the source), delete it. Hover your cursor over the sender’s email address to verify if it is legitimate.
  • Share with care. Limit the amount of personal information you share online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.

Travel can pose other risks. There are a few small tweaks to make sure you don’t return home with any surprises. 

  • Keep it locked. Lock your device when you are not using it. Even if you only step away for a few minutes, that is enough time for someone to steal or misuse your information. Set your devices to lock after a short time and use strong PINs and passwords. 
  • Stop auto connecting. Some devices will automatically seek and connect to available wireless networks or Bluetooth devices. This instant connection opens the door for cyber criminals to remotely access your devices. Disable these features so that you actively choose when to connect to a safe network.
  • Stay protected while connected. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot—such as at an airport, hotel, or café—be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good Internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (e.g., banking) that require passwords or credit cards. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. Only use sites with https:// when online shopping or banking. 

Protecting your identity is worth the effort and we hope this empowers you to stay safe and secure online.