The most common way to protect your online identity is to focus on creating strong passwords. When creating a password, choose something that will not be easily cracked or decoded. Never use a word or number that someone can associate with you such as a first, middle or last name, a spouse or child’s name, address, phone numbers, employers, or other identifying letters or numbers. Try a passphrase rather than a password. Your passphrase can be a favorite song lyric, quote from a book, magazine, or movie, or something your kids said last week. Think of a saying or series of words that is easy for you to remember, and use the first letter of each word in the phrase, along with a combination of numbers and special characters, as your passphrase. Obviously your password should be a combination of letters and numbers, but don’t stop at the bare minimum. Don’t use the same password for everything, use multiple passwords!
Before making any sort of financial transaction or entering personal data online, look for signs that show whether the website is encrypted or not. To do this, look for two things: the trusted security lock symbol and the extra “s” at the end of http in the URL or web address bar. When you are on the page that’s asking for your credit card information, the “http” changes to “https” when it is a secure site. At the same time, a lock symbol will also appear on the right side of the address bar or at the bottom left of your browser window. These two signs show that the site is encrypted, which means nobody will be able to see information as it’s sent to the website owner. This keeps your name, phone number, address, credit card number and other sensitive information from being seen by anyone else. Many of the vital online services (Google, Facebook, Twitter,etc.), allow you to only connect to their servers via an HTTPS connection.This will encrypt any stream of data between you and the service, ensuring that anyone using a packet sniffer on a (usually public) Wi-Fi network can’t obtain your login data. Never work at a coffee shop without it!
BEWARE THE PHISHING SCAM
To avoid being the victim of a phishing scam, never open emails or attachments from unknown senders, or anything unusual from known senders. Spam email is getting more and more sophisticated. Never respond to any emails with account info or passwords. Banks will never ever ask for your information in this way. If in doubt, call the bank directly to check or, better still, delete the email. Additionally, avoid anyone offering money, unfamiliar job opportunities or requests for donations to charities as this might be a plot to obtain your personal information and online identity.
PASSWORD PROTECT YOUR WIRELESS ROUTER
The wireless router that accesses the Internet at your home or business should always be password protected. When you do not have a password on your wireless network, anyone in your range can use and access your Internet, even a hacker. Not having a network password allows unauthorized individuals within proximity to hijack your wireless network. Even if they’re merely attempting to get free Wi-Fi access, you don’t want to inadvertently share private information with other people who are using your network without permission. For extra security, hide your Wi-Fi network: set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID).
ENABLE COOKIES ON YOUR WEB BROWSER WHEN REQUIRED
Another option for setting up your browser to protect your online data is by enabling cookies only when required by a website. These cookies are details websites store on your computer, including information about what sites you visit and what you do there. Most of them keep the details to themselves, but this is also a way dishonest people get your information. You may need cookies to be enabled, but limit them only to websites that require it.
SECURE YOUR SECURITY QUESTIONS
Just because security questions are a safety feature doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put the same thought into them as you password. Use numbers instead of letters. Deliberately misspell things. It’s important to provide a secret question with answers absolutely not related to it.
For example, for the question “What is the name of your first pet?” register an answer like ‘Us6KjTG.’ Instead of providing real answers, provide passwords like that one. So, basically the rule is never provide real answers for the secret questions, but make sure to record the answers you do use in a safe place!
ENABLE 2-STEP AUTHENTICATION
Apple, Facebook, Yahoo and Google all offer the option of 2-Step authentication when you login, meaning you will need to enter a secondary pin number which is generated and texted to your phone or tablet. It’s an extra step whenever you’re logged out, but it’s also a safe guarantee that no one will be trying to get into your account without you knowing it.
CHECK YOUR PHONE’S PRIVACY SETTINGS
Turning your GPS location settings to “off” can keep you and your family’s whereabouts more private. Turn on for only services needed, like maps.
KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON YOUR BANK STATEMENTS
Really savvy people cross check their receipts with the payment history on their statements, but this isn’t absolutely necessary – just keep an eagle eye out for any unfamiliar transactions to recipients you’ve never heard of.
INSTALL AND AUTOMATE OPERATING SYSTEM UPDATES
These updates contain critical security patches that will protect your computer or device from recently discovered threats. Failing to install these updates means your computer or device is at risk. It’s best to set your operating system to update automatically, so turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
Jeff Bohr | Naples Mac Help 239.595.0482 | firstname.lastname@example.org