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Online editor/webmaster

Adam Colver is the online editor at The Post-Star. He manages, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts.

Many are wishing it was Super Bowl Sunday, but that will have to wait a week.

So instead or eating chicken wings, pizza and watching the big game, you can spend the time making long overdue password improvements.

We all fall victim to this and even myself stick with ol' reliables to long and change them with variations.

The New York State Office of Information and Technology Services and the Division of Consumer Protection sent out a news release on Friday reminding consumers and businesses to protect their online privacy and information from scammers.

"Data Privacy Day serves as an important reminder about how we can keep our data safe from cyber criminals with tips we can follow all year long," said State Chief Information Officer Robert H. Samson. 

Cyber and data security shouldn't stop at online passwords either. Scammers will use anything in an effort to gain access to your personal information including phone calls, emails, apps, social media and more.

The agency offered up some tips for consumers and ways to protect information online:

Be Wary of Unsolicited Emails and Calls Asking for Personal Information — Never share personal information, such as your Social Security number, in response to an unsolicited email or telephone call. If the email or call claims to be from a company you do business with, call them first to confirm the contact is legitimate.

Secure your Mobile Devices — Apply software updates that patch known vulnerabilities as soon as they become available. Use security features built into your device such as a passcode, and programs that encrypt data and remotely wipe contents if the device gets lost or stolen.

Be Careful with Wi-Fi Hotspots — Public wireless hotspots are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing on your mobile device while you are connected. Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi, and avoid logging into sensitive accounts.

Know your Apps — Be sure to thoroughly review the details and specifications of an app before you download it. Review and understand the privacy policy of each mobile app. Be aware that the app may request access to your location and personal information.

Be Cautious about the Information you Share on Social Media — Avoid posting your birthdate, telephone number, home address, or images that identify your job or hobbies. This information may often reveal answers to security questions used to reset passwords, making you a possible target of scammers looking to access your accounts and secured information.

Use Strong Passwords — Create unique passwords for all your accounts. Use 10-12 characters in a combination of letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. Individuals should regularly change their passwords as well.

Change your security questions — Don't use the same security questions on multiple accounts. Be careful to select security questions for which only you know the answer. Make sure the answers cannot be guessed or found by searching social media or the internet.

Turn on Two-Step Verification to access accounts — To enhance the security of your account, require your password and an extra security code to verify your identity whenever you sign-in to your accounts, where available.

Beware of phishing — Do not click on links, download files or open attachments in emails from unknown senders. It is best to open attachments only when you are expecting them and know what they contain, even if you know the sender. And be wary of calls or texts asking for your personal information.

Use Automatic updates and back-up data — Make sure automatic updates are turned on for your software and that you back up all information.

Monitor your financial accounts — Review your bank, credit card, and account statements billing statements carefully to check for suspicious activity. Report any suspicious charges immediately to the responsible financial institution.

Check your credit report and consider placing a Security Freeze — If you identify inaccurate, suspicious or unusual activity on your consumer credit report notify the reporting consumer credit reporting agency and the respective financial entity immediately. New Yorkers may also want to consider placing a Security Freeze on their credit reports.

  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

Keep records — Keep all notes and records about the security breach in the event fraudulent activity arises later.

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