Woman holding a baby looking at her cell phone

Cellphones, laptops and other “smart” devices make your life easier and more enjoyable. But criminals like them too, since they store a lot of your personal information. That's why it's important to secure your devices.

Passwords are still important basics

Choosing a strong password for your laptop starts with a minimum of 15 characters. It’s best to use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols to create a phrase that is unique, yet memorable. Admittedly, a unique, 15-character or longer password could be difficult to remember for each of your online accounts. That’s where a reputable password manager software can help. Password managers allow you to create and save a different random, yet solid, password for all of your online accounts. This way it’s easier to remember or recover a single password.

When it comes to mobile devices, set your phone to erase itself after 10 failed login attempts. Next, a six- to eight-digit passcode is good for your mobile device as long as it isn't something easy to guess like important dates, an address or phone number related to you. Biometrics, such as facial recognition or a finger print, can be used for ease of access.

The next layer of basic protection

When available, use two-factor authentication (2FA) to further help protect your identity and your accounts. This extra layer of security combines a username and password (or a biometric security feature like a facial scan or fingerprint) with a second factor only you have access to. The second factor could be a one-time passcode delivered via text message; a push notification to a mobile device; or a code generator app. A long and strong password, combined with 2FA, may be your best protection against would-be thieves and password attacks.

In addition, it’s just as important to keep the device’s operating system up to date. That means downloading all manufacturer updates as they become available. There are some additional security tips to consider for wearables. When you’re shopping for your device, consider how the manufacturer protects your information as well as how it meets your everyday needs.

Keep your Internet of Things secure too

The world is moving from being just an internet of connected people to an internet where everyone and everything is connected. This is known as the Internet of Things (IoT) as more household appliances like refrigerators and thermostats are considered smart devices.

That’s a lot of devices collecting and sharing information. So, don’t forget to secure your smart home devices. This way you’re only sharing what you want to be known about you. And you’re making it harder for criminals to access and misuse your information.

These safety measures can help protect it all:

  • Change your default login credentials to something you’ll remember. 
  • Keep software up to date. 
  • Know what data is being collected and how it will be used. 
  • Limit what the device/app can do. For example, does your thermostat really need access to your contacts list?

Make it harder for thieves with these basic steps to you help you secure your devices.

The advice provided is for informational purposes only.

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