Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska continually works to ensure the security and privacy of our computers, networks and sensitive information. Since people–not computers–are often the target of hackers, we want to educate you by posting a series of articles that reinforces how to stay safe online. Being cyber secure means doing these six key things:

  1. Keeping a clean machine
  2. Protecting your personal information
  3. Connecting with care
  4. Being “web wise”
  5. Being a good online citizen
  6. Owning your online presence

We’ll briefly look at each of these topics throughout this series. So, let’s get started with the first of our series!

Keeping a clean machine

With your internet-connected devices, you have instant access to websites, games, work documents, email, music, movies—the list goes on. Because your devices are your gateway to the internet, they are also the frontline for keeping you and your personal information secure. You wouldn’t attempt to race the Indy 500 in a car that hasn’t had a tune up in a few years, so you shouldn’t connect to the internet with a device that isn’t ready for the challenges of keeping you and your information safe!

Here are some of the most important things you can do to make sure your devices are keeping you safe online:

  • Keep software current – This one is huge! Having the latest updates to your computer’s operating system, web browser and other software is essential in your defense against viruses, malware and online threats. Microsoft and Apple both regularly update their lists of potentially harmful files to be on the lookout for these threats. So, keeping your Windows or MacOS computer up to date allows your computer to do the time-consuming detective work in the background.
  • Automate software updates – Many modern software programs will automatically check for any security updates they may need to install. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option. Purchasing software through the official Windows App Store or Apple App Store can also help ensure updates are delivered automatically and regularly.
  • Make USB drives less a part of your life – USB drives and other external storage devices are not only super easy to misplace, but they are a popular way for hackers to infect computers with viruses and malware. If you must use a USB storage device, make sure it’s purchased new from a store, and keep backups of the things you’re saving to the USB drive.
  • Protect all your devices – It’s not just computers that need to be kept updated and clean: smartphones, tablets, gaming systems and any other web-enabled device also needs to be protected from viruses and malware. Become familiar with the security, privacy and software update settings of all your devices.

More information about keeping a clean machine is available from the Federal Trade Commission, or you can visit their malware informational web page at

Visit this page for more on online security from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska.