NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -Digital experts advise people to add something else to their goals for the new year and start of another decade: increased security for their computer-driven devices.
For many people, smartphones, computers and digital cameras are a part of life. But as technology gives cyber-crooks more avenues to invade peoples’ privacy, cyber-security experts like Nam Nguyen urge consumers to be more proactive in securing their digital devices.
"Any device that can interact with the internet, so if it gets online to provide you content, or if it’s accessible for when you’re away from home, like you have a baby monitor or some video camera system in your house, if that’s going to connect to the internet you want to protect that device,” said Nguyen, Principal Architect at Digitalware Inc., a company which assesses security risks and builds solutions to safeguard against data, network and other security breaches.
Serious recent cyber-attacks on government servers for the state of Louisiana and at New Orleans city hall underscore that cyber-criminals are becoming more savvy and more pervasive.
Nguyen says number one, internet users should make sure to update the software on devices they use.
“When you buy it, it might have some old software on it, it might be insecure for whatever reason, or it might have some bugs in it, right?” he said.
He said it remains important to change default passwords on new devices.
"A good password is something that has different characters in there, many different characters, letters, numbers, symbols,” said Nguyen.
And Nguyen says buying extra protection for computers that includes ransomware protection never goes out of style.
"Because ransomware is the number one thing that you see on the news these days because it locks your computer, it’s sending your data off to somebody else and then they hold it as ransom. If you want your computer or your software back, or your files back you have to pay a ransom or you know unless you have a backup then,” he said.
He said consumers should also use two-step verification for their digital devices and avoid clicking on links or opening email attachments from sources they do not trust.
"May be a PDF file, a Word file or an Excel file, if you open that, if there's macros in there it could just automatically download bad software to your computer, so just double-check who's sending you stuff,” stated Nguyen.
Recent headlines warn of ways smart TVs may expose users to hackers and digital spies.
"TVs are getting smarter and they are basically, essentially computers, you know, you can surf the web with them and whatnot. Some of them have microphones that you can talk into and some of them have cameras and I’ve seen the reports that bad hackers or hackers can get into your TV and start watching what you do and listening to what you’re doing,” said Nguyen.
He suggests taping over cameras on computers and turning off microphones on digital devices when not in use.