November 05, 2014 by The GLS Team
The Internet has become such an integral part of everyone’s lives; it’s hard to imagine we ever lived without it. Most people surf the Internet in some way at least once a day. An ever-increasing number of people have begun using the Internet as a tool for making our lives easier. It’s difficult to find someone who hasn’t shopped, banked, or paid bills online. Our increased dependence on the Internet has brought with it some concerns.
We tend to take it for granted that the information we enter into websites is secure, but too often we hear about websites being hacked and people’s personal financial information being stolen and used for nefarious deeds. Everyone needs to be extra vigilant about the information we enter into cyber space in an effort to continue to reap the benefits of the Internet without falling prey to its hazards and pitfalls.
Since the advent of the Internet we’ve all heard about using passwords to assure our information is secure. It seems like a pretty simple concept. But, what makes a password secure? How can we be assured our passwords are secure enough? Many people make vital mistakes when they are creating their passwords.
First, they create a simple password that is easy to remember. The problem with that is that it is easy to figure out, too. Another common mistake is using repeating or sequential numbers or letters. Again, an experienced and knowledgeable hacker will be able to decipher those passwords as well. Further, there is password-cracking software that can easily decipher those passwords. The third fatal mistake people make with passwords is that they use one password for every account they have. That’s a great idea for those who have a hard time remembering information. The downside is that if someone learns your password, all of your information is at risk.
- Choose different passwords for all of your accounts.
- Don’t use personal information when creating your passwords or the related security questions (i.e. birth date, maiden name, pet's name). This type of information is too easy to obtain by anyone doing a simple Internet search.
- Create longer passwords that include a mix of numbers, upper case letters, lower case letters, and symbols. Always opt for the max amount of characters the account allows.
If you have a hard time remembering numerous passwords, write them down and put them in a secure, locked location away from your computer. Another option is to write down hints for yourself to remember your passwords so anyone who may come across the paper won’t know what it is. It may take you an extra few minutes to dig out the paper before you go online, but the extra effort will be worth it. You can also use a password manager that will encrypt your passwords and store them online or even generate random passwords for you. Talk with your company’s security manager for recommendations on which password managers to use.
Deeper Internet Security
Passwords are just your first line of defense.
The Guardian suggests taking these steps when you’re surfing online.
- Free e-mail services such as gmail and Hotmail are vulnerable. Consider switching to a paid service.
- Encrypt as much Internet data as you can.
- Don’t forget that the websites you visit are easily track-able. Configure your Internet browser to commercial retailers can’t track what you do online.
- Avoid Cloud services whenever you can. If you must use them, be sure everything is encrypted.
- Be leery of social media. If you don’t want to delete your accounts be careful of the information you share. Also, keep in mind that you can’t control what other people post about you.
- Turn off all Bluetooth functions on your mobile devices and only use your mobile devices in public when absolutely necessary.
- The major search engines track your history; switch to one that doesn’t.
Phishing websites can be the bane of every Internet users existence. These are pages that are set up by people for the sole intent of stealing your information. People may be directed to these pages by fraudulent emails. Be careful when opening emails and be sure you know the sender. Yahoo.com provides these telltale signs an email might be fraudulent.
- Stay away from emails that emails that is similar to, but not quite, something familiar.
- If an email asks for “urgent” action or looks overly generic, it is likely not legitimate.
- Stay away from emails with links to unknown websites.
If you’re on a website and think you may have been phished, there are some things you can do right away to avoid harm.
- Make sure the company name in the web address is correct.
- Look for missing or incorrect letters in web addresses.
- Watch out and don’t fall for pop-up windows. These windows are often just tools for phishing your information.
- If you think you’re on a fake website, do not provide any information. Immediately go to your trusted website and change your password.
As long as the Internet will be a part of our lives, there will be people who try to steal our information, money, or identity. Be a smart Internet user and take precautions to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.