Act Before the Hack

Pro Tips

We talk a lot about the basics of online security, because sometimes the most basic steps can give you a lot of protection. But if you’ve already taken those steps, you may be wondering what else you can do to stay secure while online. Here are some more advanced online security threats and some pro tips for how to deal with them.

Common Online Security Myths

Let’s get started by debunking some common online security myths, shall we? Make sure you don’t believe the 4 myths covered in this CNN Money article, and check out tips for protecting yourself from online security risks related to those myths.

Social Media Quizzes

Which Disney princess are you? If you were a vegetable, which one would you be? These innocent questions can lure you into social media quizzes, but this Better Business Bureau (BBB) article reveals that the quizzes may not be as innocent as they seem. At the very least, companies could be mining your data, or worse still, hackers could be trying to collect the information they need to access your online accounts. Pro tip: Proceed with caution. Check the quiz source and be skeptical of the questions they’re asking.

Flash Drives, Memory Cards and Other Storage Devices

USB drives and other storage devices can make taking files with you very easy, and they can help with file transfers and backups. But a lot of the features that make them convenient can also make them a security risk. Check out this US-CERT article for some pro tips for using USB flash drives safely. These tips also apply to other storage devices, like memory cards and external hard drives.


Do you use Bluetooth speakers or headphones? Does your phone connect to your vehicle using Bluetooth? Just like with other wireless connections, making your device visible to other devices and allowing devices to connect using Bluetooth presents some security risks. Get some pro tips for keeping your wireless connections secure by reading this article from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Active Content and Cookies

Let’s chat about active content and cookies. You may question what exercise and food have to do with technology, but that isn’t what we’re talking about here! Active content is the code that makes things move online, and cookies are pieces of information about you that websites store to help personalize your website experience. While useful, they can pose some security risks, so learn more about them and get some pro tips to help you avoid security pitfalls.

Regular Computer Backups

Devices tend to malfunction, get lost or die when you least expect it. Remove the need to panic by putting your devices on a regular backup schedule. Stay Safe Online has the information you need to get started, along with a pro tip we hadn’t really thought about. Can you guess which tip that is?

Botnets, Spyware, Viruses, Fake Antivirus and Ransomware

Malware and botnets and ransomware – oh my! These cyberattack methods are very popular with hackers, so it’s important to understand what each one is and how to avoid them. This Stay Safe Online article addresses all three (and their various forms) and provides some pro tips for keeping them off your devices.

One form of malware that can be particularly tricky is fake antivirus software. Hackers are very skilled at mimicking popular antivirus programs and using the fake software to steal your information. To get some pro tips for detecting when antivirus programs are real and when they’re fake, check out this US-CERT article.

Internet Anonymity

Did you know that as you visit websites, you are automatically sending them information about your computer and how you are using the sites? Most organizations collect this information for legitimate purposes, but others may use it to steal your identity and abuse your personal information. US-CERT has more information about the risks and pro tips to help limit what information websites collect.

US-CERT Tips Page

If you’ve enjoyed this series of pro tips, then US-CERT’s tips page is for you! It covers all kinds of security topics, from the basics to advanced security issues. Bookmark this page so you can refer to it later when you have security questions.

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