3 Tips for Staying Safe Online
Personal cyber security is one of those things that you rarely think about until you become a victim, then suddenly, it is all you can think about! As a professional in the technology realm, I am reminded often of these risks, so I am passing along three of the easiest to resolve, common offenders:
Never Send Sensitive Numbers Over Email
This includes credit card numbers, social security number, bank account numbers, etc. I know it can be tempting to save time or prevent mistakes, but sending data like this opens you up to a world of potential problems. Once it is sent, that number is stored on your own computer, your email server, any server it passes through on its way to the recipient, the recipient’s email server, AND the recipient’s computer. That means a hacker would only have to access ONE of these points to steal your information. If you need to share sensitive information, it is best to use an encrypted email service, a secure website, or simply pick up the phone and call.
Up Your Password Game
I feel like a squeaky wheel on this topic, but it is one of the most vulnerable points of weakness in the modern technology climate. (Plus, when “123456”, “qwerty” and “password” are the three most popular passwords in America for 5th year running, I feel somewhat justified!) The most common reason for simple passwords is that people feel they have nothing to hide. Even if that is true, the amount of harm that can be caused by malicious infiltration would astound you! We have seen reputations ruined and small businesses shut down by simple, small errors like this. Best practices for strong passwords are:
- Use a minimum of 12 to 14 characters.
- Use at least one uppercase, one lowercase, one number, and one special character. Try using the first letter of every word of a memorable, long sentence, like this: Il2ee&t@6AMem! (“I like to eat eggs and toast at 6AM every morning!” )
- Don’t reuse passwords. Regardless of how strong a password is, all you have to do is type that into the wrong site one time and suddenly they have access to your whole life!
Turn off your Wi-Fi And Bluetooth When Not In Use
Most people leave their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled on their phones on all the time so that they can save their personal data allowance by automatically connecting to their home/work/school network. Here’s where the danger lies. Let’s say your phone’s Wi-Fi is enabled and set to automatically connect to “My Awesome Home Network”. Your phone will constantly send out pings to see if it is can connect to “My Awesome Home Network”. If a bad guy wants access to your phone, all they have to do is set up their own network called the same thing – “My Awesome Home Network”. When your phone gets in range, it will automatically trust this new network, giving them access to all of the sensitive items we access on our phones! It is best to make a habit of turning on your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth when want to use it and turning it off when you are done. (Plus, on top of keeping your personal information secure, you will get an added perk of longer battery life!)