Ten tips in ten days to keep you cyber-safe

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - According to security firm McAfee, every 39 seconds a computer connected to the internet is attacked by hackers.

To mark 100 episodes of her Protecting Your Cyberturf reports, Cyber Expert Theresa Payton offers 10 things you can do in 10 days to have a healthier and safer digital life.

She says most can even be completed in less than 10 minutes.

1. Search, Surf, and Alert: Use several search engines and variations of your name to understand what it posted by you and about you online.  Set up alerts in search engines to alert you when your name is posted online.

2. Privacy Please:  Check your settings on your social media accounts.  Use the Grandmom rule for all posts:  If she shouldn't see it, don't post it on the internet.

3. Updates:  Update your operating system, your software packages, and browsers.  They help a lot.

4.  Strong Passwords:  A great way to look at it is to think of a car's vanity plate.  The saying is short and unique.  You need a different one for every important account that you have.

5.  Auto Lock and Wipe:  auto lock your computer, phone, and tablet after a few minutes.  Where possible, enable a "wipe" function in the event your device is lost or stolen (ask your manufacturer for details)

6.  Anti virus and anti malware software:  Use software to help you fight against malicious software.  Versions are now available to protect smart phones too.

7.  Backup Files:  Have you recorded the last several years of your life on digital cameras?  Back them up to your computer and then create a back up of those photos to make sure if your computer crashes, that you have easy access to those digital images.

8.  Location, Location, Location:  Have young kids, tweens and teens at home?  Have a digital divide in your house.  All things digital stay in common areas and no digital devices allowed in bedrooms.  Would you let your kid hang out with someone they just met in their room?  The same rule applies on the internet.

9.  Be a Skeptic:  Trust but verify.  Watch what you click on, files you open, and devices that you attach to your computer.  Even birthday and holiday greeting cards could be infected!  If you have a note from someone you know and it sounds too good to be true, call them.  Double check those amazing offers first by typing in the name of the offer + scam into your favorite search engine.  Use the Better Business Bureau as a resource to make sure you do not become the next victim.

10. WiFi and Bluetooth:  If you have a new phone, tablet, or computer these options are ready to go!  These handy tools that make life easier can also allow cybercreeps to snoop on you.  Turn these functions off when you are not using them.  Set your security settings to high so you receive alerts.  Avoid free WiFi unless you can verify that it is safe.


Over the past 100 episodes, we have received a lot of great questions.  Here are just a few questions and answers that will help you have a healthy digital you.

Q:  I think my computer is infected!  Now what?

A:  The best prevention is up to date browsers and antivirus software.  However, some computer infections will prevent you from running those tools.

1.  If you need help, contact your device's manufacturer to see if they can assist you.

2.  If you want to try fixing it yourself, there are free malware, virus, and botnet removal tools available at:





Q:  How do I keep track of the latest scams?

A:  Everyone is so busy this is not easy but you can definitely check a few places before you give out personal information or access to your bank and credit card accounts.

Track scams at:


Q:  If I want to read more on how to keep my family and loved ones safe from cyber creeps, what can I do?

A:  WBTV.com posts all of the helpful tips on the Protecting Your Cyberturf page each week.  You can also visit several websites set up to offer safety tips.  We have highlighted a few of them here:

Tips for Digital Health and Safety (Businesses and Consumers):


A safe place for kids to surf:


Malicious software and internet tips:



TDL4:  It's the 4th generation of the TDL botnet that researchers believe is controlled by cybercriminals in Russia.  It is very stealthy and delivers all those things we love to hate - fake antivirus, adware, and spam. It's estimated that more than 4 million machines are infected with it.  If you think you have it on your computer, there are a few tools out there that can help you remove it.