Internet Intelligence: Your Guide to Staying Safe Online
As Internet business, banking, and social interaction grow more and more common, online security is becoming as important as physical security. Hackers, thieves, and scam artists employ sophisticated tools to steal your information, making it difficult to respond or even know you were attacked. Thus, the only way to stay safe is to be proactive, taking preventative online security steps to ensure that none of your information or assets are vulnerable. No matter what you use the Internet for, make sure to practice these tips:
Never rely on a single email address for all of your accounts. If you do, anyone who breaks into that account will immediately have access to all your money, information, and social media pages. Instead, create a variety of addresses and devote each one to a different type of activity. One address you can give to professional contacts; another can be for friends, social media, and listservs; and yet another can serve your bank account, investments, and other sensitive services.
When coming up with passwords for sensitive accounts, never use your name, address, or any other information that someone could easily find. Instead, think of passwords that only you will know, based on references to your life that others will not be able to guess. One possibility is to choose a quote from your favorite book, so that those who haven’t read that book or don’t know that you like it won’t have a clue. It also helps to replace letters with numbers and characters. Instead of “handmaidoffred,” for example, make the password “h&ndma1d0ffred!” Such a password will be virtually impossible for an outsider to guess.
Even if you follow every online security tip in the book, you are still vulnerable to viruses and theft through your less-responsible friends. Pernicious programs can gather information about you from your friends’ accounts, gradually learning everything they need to know for an attack. If you have a friend who constantly sends spam emails, posts links to disreputable websites, or invites you to questionable pages, alert them to the dangers and explain to them how to stay safe. If they won’t change their ways, don’t hesitate to unfollow them. Though this may not seem like the friendly thing to do, it will be far worse for your friendship if you lose money or download a virus through their negligence.
Be wary when giving out your credit card number, SSN, or other sensitive information. Although there are some legitimate reasons to share this information, many sites have no reason to ask for it other than to steal from you. Always ascertain why a website asked you for a particular piece of data, what it plans to do with it, and whether you can get the same service without sharing that data. Never share sensitive information if it is not absolutely necessary.
No matter how careful you are, a savvy hacker may still find a way into your accounts. When this happens, the key is to respond immediately, but that requires you to know that you have been hacked. You should thus check your bank statements, investments, and other sensitive accounts on a regular basis. If you notice a transaction that you did not authorize, contact the relevant organization immediately and cancel it. Also keep an eye on your emails and social media accounts for evidence of spam. The quicker you respond, the less damage will be done.
SafeTouch Security has the technology and expertise to protect customers in all areas of life. For more information on online security, visit our website today.