Bytes Of Information

Protect Your Self Online

By

Scott Sekinger

6/12/13

 

It is important in today’s digital world to protect your computer and your private information.  This article will give some tips to help you protect yourself online.

Protect Your Computer

Protecting your computer from maleware is one of the most important things you can do.  The tips below apply to any type of computer ranging from your PC to your tablet.

 Software Updates - Update your software frequently including the Operating Systems, antivirus, web browsers, Adobe products like their flash and reader, and any other pieces of software you have on your computer. Vender’s release updates all the time to fix security flaws that are discovered in their software.  The faster you patch your software the better. Maleware writers start writing or modifying maleware as soon as the flaw is publicizes to take advantage of these flaws.  I highly suggest that you keep automatic updates on for all of the software that has this feature.

There are programs out there that can assist you in updating your software.  CNET offers a program called CNET TechTracker, and another is Filehippo.com Update Checker.  Both of these programs are very useful when it comes to making sure your software is up to date.  

Software Installation When you install software try to use the custom feature of installation software to only components you really need. Try to avoid installing extra ad on programs like toolbars. These programs may have some form of maleware in them, and can cause other problems with your computer.

Device Software - Only install software from the app store for your IOS, Android or Windows phone, and tablet or music device. 

Think twice about rooting your Andriod phone or Jail Breaking you Iphone.  It might cause problems down the road that could leak your personal info.

 Website Security - If you are a webmaster (website owner) it is very important to update the software on website to help prevent your visitors from getting infected. This includes WordPress, Drupel, etc. There are services like Sitelock, iIloclockout that will help you find and fix security flaws on your site.

Be care full of what websites you go to.  There are many sites out there that are infected with all forms of maleware.  Believe it or not there are places where webmasters can go to by maleware kits that they can put on there on their site to try to infect your computer.  iIlockout has a web site scanner that will you check to  see  if the site you are not sure about is infected.  If ilockout says that you have maleware then  read my article Stop From Getting Bite By Malware at once to get rid of your of the nasty stuff.

Check out my article Stop From Getting Bite By Malware to learn more about maleware.

Firewall -Turn on firewall on your PC.  Check your OS online help for help on turning it on.  A firewall helps protect your PC from being hacked into.  If you have a router then you have a hardware firewall, but it is still good to turn your OS’s firewall on.  If you want better Firewall software then head over to my Download Gallery Security Software section to see some of the great free firewalls that are out there.  If you have an Internet Suite then there is no need to turn on the OS’s firewall, or download a separate one.

Passwords – Come up with a good password for your mobile computers, and any computer that requires a password. Consider setting up a password for your PC at home, and your router.  I will cover passwords in more detail in the next section.

Develop Good Online Habits

Keeping your personal information as much as possible is very important. if certain information gets into the wrong hands then you can have problem such as money stolen, identity theft, etc.

PasswordsAlways use strong passwords.  Strong passwords consist of a mixture lower and uppercase letters, numbers and characters.  A password should be at least 8 characters if possible. An example of a weak password is apple.  An example of a strong password is A1p+ple07.  Also try to remember to change your password frequently, and do not use the same on every site.  There are several great programs that will help you come up and manage passwords. Check out the article Which Password Manager Is The Most Secure?  to learn more about password Managers. A password manager is a great place to keep and manage your passwords.

User Names - Use encrypted user names.  Use something like Ssekin71 instead of Sekinger.  This is easy to remember and hard for people to link to with the person who is using it.

Security Questions – Security questions are used for you to retrieve your password when you forget what it is.  Head over to http://www.goodsecurityquestions.com/examples.htm to see what some questions that are asked are.

Below are some tips in choosing answers to security questions:

1.     Make sure that the answer to the question is only one that only you know.

2.     Make sure that some cannot find out through research.  Lying is a great way to make answer harder to guess.

3.     Make sure that you can remember the answer.  You can user a password manager to help you remember you security question answers.       

Email Address - Do not use an email address that gives away your name by accident. Use something like ssekin71@gmail.com instead of Doctor_Who@gmail.com.  This is easy to remember and hard for people to link to with the person who is using it.

Sending Email – It is important to remember that email is usually sent in plain text unless you something link PGP, or some other service to encrypt it.  Check out How to Encrypt Your Email to learn more.

Financial Information – Money makes people do crazy things.  The tips below will help you protect your money from being stolen.

1.     When you go to a website where you are going to user your credit card or some other form of payment method make sure that there is a pad lock in front of and https is at the beginning of the web site address.

2.     Do not fall for emails that asked you tell to click on this link to log into your banking or other website to get information your account.  Type the web address in directly into the address bar, or bring it up by a reliable list of favorites/bookmarks.

3.     Use a gift card if possible.  Gift cards are acceptable for most online purchases in the country you buy them in. All of the credit card companies offer gift cards for sale at many retail stores. Many of your major online websites also offer gift cards for sale. Gift cards limit the amount of money that can be charged and what country they can be used in.  Most of time I discovered that you have to use a service PayPal or Google Wallet to use the cards successfully most of the time.

If some steals the card then you only loose the amount you have on the card.

4.     All credit card companies offer credit cards that can only be used at certain places.  Head over to your credit card of choices website or call the credit card company to learn more.

Sharing Other Information - Make sure you watch what you post online because it can come back and bite you.  It could damage any carrier or personal plans down the road.  Below are some tips that will help you.

1.     Social Networks change their policies all of the time, so make sure you keep them properly set.  Facebook has been known in the past to do this a lot.

2.     Do not post anything that you really want to keep secret.  Current or future Employers or stalkers can check you post frequently.  Consult your company’s policy on social media before posting anything.

3.     Avoid posting phone numbers,  or address,

4.     Use a hard to guess username that only you, family, and friends know.

5.     Watch what you comment on like number 2 you never know who is reading your comments.

6.     Delete anything you think you have something posted online that could hurt you.  This will make harder but impossible for people to find harmful information you.  Once you post something it is never 100% that it can be deleted.