Cybersecurity is not just an issue for large companies or government agencies. It is an issue for all that use the Internet and email. Everyone can be and is a target.

The most common effort to place malware on your computer or smart phone, or steal vital personal information or logins/passwords is through a phishing scam. Authentic-looking text messages or emails from your financial institution, the IRS, phone provider, or email service, ask for you to take some kind of action by clicking on a link. That link is where the action to infect your device or lure giving up personal information occurs.

When you receive these kinds of inquiries, take a close look at the sender’s information. Phishing schemes quite often infect other user’s devices and use their email or text to send more phishing information from their address book. If you see that, delete it. And if you have questions about the authenticity of the inquiry, call the organization to verify the inquiry. This step will help avoid becoming a victim of identity theft as well.

Another rising cybersecurity concern for individuals is ransomware. Ransomware is where bad actors lock your computer and try to extort money from you to get your files returned.

There are steps to take to avoid becoming a victim of cyber theft. One key step is how you manage your passwords. One high-tech reporter noted this phrase that rings so true. Passwords are like underwear: change them often, don’t share them and don’t leave them lying around.

Many of us have dozens of logins and passwords, making it difficult to remember all of them. Free password manager apps are a great way to recall them all. Avoid using the same password for all your online activities. For instance, if one online site is stolen, the bad guy will try to use your password on other accounts.

Another key step is to implement what is called – two-factor authentication. This second step requires also entering a one-time code sent to your smart phone each time your log in. Yes, this extra step takes additional time and can be annoying, but it is far less infuriating than having your personal information stolen.

One more key step is to keep your computer(s) and phone security updates – up-to-date. Many software providers allow automatic updates when they are published. Those updates can be scheduled such as during sleeping hours to avoid any daily interruptions. If that choice is not made, be sure to do those updates as soon as you can manually. And this key step goes for smart phones, routers, wi-fi, smart home devices, and printers as well.

Also ensure your devices have reputable security programs to bring any unwanted intrusions to a halt. These programs can identify quarantine, report and delete any suspicious malware, viruses or other cybercriminal tools.

All these simple steps will raise your protection from whatever the bad guys wish to do to your devices, and help ensure your personal information is secured online.

North Sound Meteorologist Ted Buehner worked more than 40 years for the National Weather Service (NWS) from 1977 to 2018. He is now an Everett Post Media team member. Together with Everett Post Weather Minute Podcasts, he provides morning and afternoon commute traffic and weather updates on both KRKO and KXA Radio, and sports reporting on KRKO.