Anytime you are on the Internet, you need to take steps to protect yourself online. If you do not it can be very easy to lose all your money.
The first thing to know is that if you use the Internet, there is no 100% secure step that guarantees that your information is safe. If behemoths such as Google, Sony, and Symantec (a company that makes virus-scanning software) are hacked in the last 12 months, you probably understand why it impossible to be connected and 100% secure. However, by following the following six easy steps, you can drastically reduce the chances of compromising your information online.
Tip #1 – A solid password
A complicated password is not a guarantee, but it certainly helps. However, that is where the problem starts for most people – how do you come up with a difficult to guess password that is easy to remember? A combination of special characters, lowercase, uppercase, letters, and numbers is your best bet. Be sure to avoid information that is intricately connected to personal information such as your mother’s name or your date of birth. If you have a Facebook or LinkedIn account, you would be surprised how easy that information is to track down.
Tip #2 – Keep your passwords separated
You do not use the same key to your home, office, and car, and you should not use the same password for your work login, Facebook account, email account, and Internet banking account either. If all passwords are the same, once someone compromises your Facebook account (to give but an example) they will also have access to your email. From there it is easy for them to get into your online bank account or other information if the passwords are the same.
Tip #3 – SSL spells safety
Okay, so SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) does not really spell safety, but it does help keep your personal information secure. If you are getting ready to provide sensitive information (think a social security number or credit card information) be sure to check the lower right hand corner or top left corner of your browser and find out if there is an SSL icon (the icon looks like a lock and lights up green). When you see that icon, it means that there is a secure and encrypted connection between you and the server. If the site does not have a secure connection, you are better off buying elsewhere.
Tip #4 – Scanning for threats and updating
Unfortunately, those unscrupulous hackers are becoming smarter by the minute it seems. Whereas before viruses and Trojan horses were only a problem if you opened the wrong email attachment, now visiting a compromised site with the wrong type of browser could get you infected. Be sure that you always have the latest updates of your browser and that you have your anti-viral and anti-malware software running.
Tip #5 – Of course you can trust your “bbank”
Whenever you are browsing the web and something does not look quite right, be on the lookout for possible misspellings. The moment you spell the name of your bank, Disney, or Google wrong (again, just examples), you might end up on an entirely different site. There are people that do nothing but buy up misspelled domains and make money from them.
Tip #6 – Have you been breached? Time to make some changes
In the event that someone does manage to get into your account, most people only change their password. They believe that this will be enough to deter a future hacker. However, how did the hacker find out your information in the first place? It is not just good enough to change the password, but change the security questions that many sites ask for as well. You could have a seemingly unhackable password, but if someone already knows the answer to your security questions, they will get right back into your account.
The truth is that when it comes to Internet security, you are putting quite a bit of trust in the hands of the people you provide your information to. However, when it comes to information breaches, 90% of it rests on the user while approximately 10% of the breaches rest on the people responsible for protecting your information. Follow these six tips and you are on your way to a safer online experience.
About the Author
Jane Warren enjoys providing advice and valuable tips for consumers that are looking to protect themselves better online. Many of the articles Jane has written deal with Internet security and provide insight into the concept of how someone is better able to protect their identity online.
Jane also is a big animal lover. Read about some of her tips and suggestions at her blog. Be sure to properly protect your animals this season with appropriate fleas and ticks treatments as recommended there.
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