Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A reminder about those electronic Christmas presents!

This is a time of year when many of us will receive all kinds of electronic gifts. Since computers are such a large part of our lives, we want to remind everyone to make sure that any new electronic device is secure before using it.

From cell phones and tablets to video games and car navigation systems, please be sure to set up, use, and secure your device correctly. Also make sure that your children's devices are set up securely as well.

Here are some tips from the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US - CERT) about securing new devices:

  1. Connect to a SECURE network and secure your router.
  2. Enable and configure a firewall: your user's guide has instructions on enabling your firewall. Also consult the user's guide to learn how to configure the security settings and set a strong password that is not easily guessed.
  3. Install, use, and update antivirus and antispyware software obtained from reputable sources (directly from the vendor's website).
  4. Remove unnecessary software.
  5. Modify unnecessary default features: Computers and other devices often have default settings that automatically transmit information to the maker of the device and you probably won't even know it's happening. Go through the systems settings and make sure you're not unknowingly sharing information that you don't want to.
  6. Secure your web browser.
  7. Make sure you apply software updates and enable automatic future updates.
  8. Establish security "rules" for your family's computers: make sure that everyone in the family understands that they need to use different passwords for different sites, should not open email attachments without verifying who sent them, and should never provide private information to anyone over the internet.
  9. Do not leave your device unattended in public or in easily accessible areas.
  10. Use passwords that are unique and use symbols, numbers, and use both upper and lowercase letters.
  11. Know where you are connected! Be careful about public Wi-Fi - any data you transmit while using unsecured public Wi-Fi is out there for anyone to access. That includes passwords, etc. when you are logging into sites or emailing information/pictures/etc.
If you have questions about identity theft or data breaches and would like assistance or general information, Maine Identity Services can help. They publish data breach and identity theft reference materials, training for police, and provide speakers for meetings. You can reach them at 855-463-4343 or email at

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