How secure are you online? With all the panic over the recent Heartbleed bug, it’s a good time to step back and assess your overall Internet safety. Are you releasing sensitive information or leaking personal data without realizing it? Here are a few tips for staying away from hackers, criminals and scam artists and maintaining your privacy online.
Never post personal information online. This goes for your address, phone number, banking and credit card information, and (of course) your Social Security number.
Control what you share on social media. It’s easy to overshare on Facebook or Twitter – but when you post phone numbers, emails, and exact addresses for work, home or school, you lay yourself wide open for hacking online and stalking in real life.
Don’t open emails from senders you don’t recognize. You could be inviting a nasty bug into your system.
Don’t follow links you don’t trust. Scammers are tricky – they often set up dummy links that take you to a fake version of a trusted website. Once you’ve clicked through to the site, they can mine your information and compromise your security. If you need to go to a website, type the address in a search bar. Don’t click through from a link in an email.
Don’t enter any private information on a non-secure site. Secure URLs start with “https.” (The “S” means the website is secure.)
Create secure passwords. We can’t emphasize this one enough. Use a different password for each computer, and for each website that requires a password. Change passwords often, and make sure they’re strong: complicated mixes of numbers, symbols and letters that only you will remember and recognize. (No birthdays. No addresses. No pet or family names, or names backwards – as tempting as those options are.) A strong password is easy for you to remember, and very, very hard for others to guess. (Here are some tips for creating strong passwords – an absolute necessity in the wake of Heartbleed.)
Protect your computer from viruses and malware. You don’t need bugs infecting your computer and gathering your personal information, so make sure you’re up to date with security and encryption software. Plus, make sure you perform regular software updates – even though it can be annoying. You don’t want to get blindsided by a virus your system can’t handle.
The following links offer a number of additional resources and information on Internet privacy and security.
August 30, 2017
October 12, 2016
October 7, 2016
July 27, 2016
July 21, 2016