Thursday, June 19, 2014

Top Five Ways to Boost Your Online Security

In the age of technology, EVERYTHING is online. Here are some tips to protect your (and your family's) information online!

1) De-personalize your passwords. You guys... I'm the absolute worst about this. I can safely share this with everyone because I have gone through and changed my passwords to everything, but the dumbest things to include in your passwords are pet names, special dates (your birthday, anniversary, kid's birthdate), any part of your social security number, and your kiddos' names. Do yourself a favor and make up the craziest NOT-LIKE-YOU passwords you can think of. Outrageous even! xbiggestBritneySpearsfan1481x; imyellintimber817OK; totesmagotesSprintPCS224. Crazy, stupid stuff that doesn't even make sense is what your password should be. Not something super predictable like your favorite dog's name and your birth year. C'mon y'all. 

2) {Warning: this is the pot calling the kettle black.} Stop over-sharing on social media. Sam from SingleHop shares with us this: "With vulnerabilities in today’s technology, folks should be wary of what they’re spewing out into cyberspace. Some websites and web administrators host their own IT infrastructure, meaning they have rooms filled with servers, hard drives containing hundreds of terabytes of data, and lots of networking power– With social media, there are a number of sites using cloud computing technologies so they don’t have to manage all of this internally. When you upload a photo to Facebook, you’re basically handing it over to the IT gods at another cloud computing company and telling them to do with it what they wish. To sum it up, they’re outsourcing their infrastructure, whether it is ground level hardware, programming based or software. For the users of social media sites, this means you’re putting the integrity of your data/media into the hands of a company like SingleHop. We provide that Internet hard drive, or cloud if you will, and with very detailed and sophisticated security measures. Companies come to us if they want to purchase cloud hosting. Regardless, photos, short snippets of text, videos, music, etc… quickly becomes shared property once you send it out via social media. You should understand whom you’re handing that information over to, and how it’s being protected. Even the most secure of websites, like Google, have succumbed to highly intelligent viruses like the recent Heartbleed bug. 
Make your page(s) and profiles private all you want; as long as you’re still uploading data to the Internet into the cloud, you’re susceptible to hackers and breaches, and therefore a loss of ownership of whatever it is that you’re placing on the web. (Note that most social media sites nowadays have full rights/permissions to reuse and repurpose media uploaded to their servers from users like us)." 

We go to all of this trouble making our Facebook pages "private" etc. (which is helpful for keeping your ex-boyfriend's mom off of your page) but if it's on the internet, it's there. But additionally, the harmless "can't wait for our Hawaii trip!!!" is letting everyone know your home will be empty, and you will be out of town for however many days... your "I miss my husband; hate when he works nights" posts lets everyone know you are home by yourself. And for goodness sake, DON'T make your home a "check-in" on Facebook!!!! Unless you are running a business from your home, Facebook does not need to know where "my crib"/"MeAgAn'Z hOuZe"/"Harrison's Household" is. You just let everyone know your street address. I could even go on to say, don't "check-in" to where you are. Not only are you letting everyone know where you are, but more importantly, where you aren't (at home). 

3) Change your Location Services setting on your smart phone, so your location isn't being recorded on photos. When we take pictures on our phones (which 99% of us do these days; I haven't seen a free-standing camera outside of a photo shoot since like 2008), if we have certain settings on our phone, the picture will record exactly where we were and when it was when the photo was taken. OK, BIG BROTHER! Here is how to change your location services settings to protect your photos if you use an iPhone. 

4) Change your passwords every 6 months. I realize that this is a huge pain in the butt, but... changing your password after a random email has been sent out, or worse, after $250 has been taken out of your Paypal account is an even bigger pain in the butt, so --- change your passwords every 6 months, religiously. Time this with your dental cleaning! 

5) Choose non-personal security questions on your online accounts. Sam from SingleHop shares this,  "Most security questions that you answer on financial websites indicate some personal information about you. Do not give out this information online in any shape or form. As a matter of fact, you should be sure that the answers to your security questions are not linked to your personal life at all. There are people who are very proficient in fishing out the answers to your questions and using it to break into your account." This goes along with your passwords. They should not be personal. I know that security questions are often pre-selected, like "What is your mother's maiden name?" but it doesn't mean you HAVE to be truthful in your response. Mark the answer as "Rufus McGee," and call it a day. Because believe me, if someone is trying (as in, making a conscious effort) to hack into your Bank of America account, they can do some online research and find out what your (or your mom's) maiden name is.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips, Tara! Thanks for sharing them! Since almost everybody already has online presence, it will be smart to follow the tips you provided. It's easy to hack someone's social account, especially if the person hacking you has a lot of information about you. What you share online can be used against you, so it's definte that everyone is careful of what they share. All the best! :)

    Julius Horton @ Polkadot PR