An informed and alert user has a clear advantage in the fight for online safety. The more you are aware of the types of vulnerabilities, the better you are able to defend against them.

A number of good resources are available. For consumers, the Consumer Protection Bureau has excellent tips and checklists. Business owners can also benefit from the US Chamber of Commerce’s Internet Security Essentials for Business web site. No matter your environment, these six practices can help protect your confidential information:

  1. Protect your personal information. It’s too valuable to treat casually. Never share personal information unless you know how it will be used and protected. Don’t reply to or click on links in any email unless you know for sure who the email is from and you were expecting it. See Privacy Policy for an idea of the standard you should hold others to.
  2. Know who you’re dealing with. When shopping online, be sure the site is protected by basic encryption (look for an “s” in the https:// part of the address).
  3. System maintenance. Use antivirus & malware software, keep your operating system’s firewall enabled, and keep both current with regular updates and patches. Businesses should protect their network and establish a good monitoring system.
  4. Use good passwords. This is a topic all to itself. Good passwords are not taped to a surface near your computer or shared with others! Your personal identity and finances should not be vulnerable to a password that is based on your phone number, a birth date, social security number, of the initials of family members.
  5. Back-up important files. If you have important files on your computer, these should also be on a portable disk or thumb-drive and stored in a safe place.
  6. Learn who to contact if something goes wrong. Go to and click on “File a complaint” to learn more about how to respond when there are problems online.

For more information visit our Security Center.