I, myself, am an infrequent blogger, sorry that’s just the way it is. However I am open to doing something a bit different so I am delighted to introduce my first guest blog. Following up on my LinkedIn blogs and the LinkedIn password crisis Philip J Reed, from Westwood College in the USA, has written a useful article with suggestions for personal online security.
5 Tips for Personal Security Online
–Philip J Reed, on behalf of Westwood College
The recent LinkedIn password theft debacle provided an excellent example of the risks associated with inadequate online security. The loss of a single password may enable thieves to access your financial accounts or allow hackers to spread viruses in your name, which is a good indication of the importance of taking personal online security seriously. Here are five tips that can help, and we look forward to reading your additional tips in the comments!
1. Don’t rely upon secure websites or anti-virus software to fully protect your data. Even when you visit a secure website, a keylogger virus may record your keystrokes and send them to criminals. No online database is completely invulnerable to hacking, and anti-virus programs cannot detect new viruses that have yet to be identified. It’s important to take a range of preventive measures.
2. If possible, set your email account to display messages in plain text. Only view an email in HTML format if it comes from a trusted source and the plain text version doesn’t appear suspicious. HTML and program scripts in electronic mail can cause your computer to contract a virus when you look at an infected message, according to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.
3. Examine documents and other files on your computer to see if they contain sensitive data, such as your Social Security number or bank account details. If so, remove them from the computer’s hard disk drive. Use external storage media to back up the files. After putting the confidential documents on a CD, flash drive or floppy disk, consider locking it in a sturdy cabinet or closet.
4. Avoid giving out personal information on the internet. Remember that criminals can put together different pieces of information and use them to steal your identity. If you start a personal website, pay extra to keep your contact details out of the domain registry. Don’t use your full name as an online username. If you have a page on a social network like Facebook, block the general public from viewing it.
5. Change your passwords periodically. Microsoft Security recommends setting new passwords for financial service websites and email accounts every 90 days. Try to use about nine letters, numbers and symbols in each password. Never utilize the same password for several websites. When hackers find usernames and
passwords, they often use the information to access other online accounts.
There’s always more to learn about online security. Some stores and libraries carry entire books devoted to this subject. If the subject of online security is of particular interest to you, consider expanding your knowledge by earning a college degree in information security.
For Further Reading:
U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, http://www.us-cert.gov/reading_room/virus.html
Microsoft Security, http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/passwords-create.aspx
- LinkedIn, Last.fm, now Yahoo? Don’t ignore news of a password breach. (csmonitor.com)
- LinkedIn’s security issue reveals obvious: Passwords, users always a weak link (zdnet.com)
- Now Yahoo suffers hack; security experts warn of complacency, give advice (itproportal.com)
- LinkedIn password breach: How to tell if you’re affected (zdnet.com)