Take Action Now To Protect Your On-Line Information

Many of us put much more emphasis on protecting homes, cars, jewelry, children and pets than our on-line security. Individual and corporate breaches occur on a daily basis because our electronic information is valuable to thieves. Here are tips that can help to reduce your vulnerability for an attack:

  • Email – your inbox presents the highest risk to your on-line security. Malware and viruses can be imbedded in emails so it is best practice to not click on links or open attachments unless you know the sender.
  • Confidential Information – never send confidential information such as your social security number, birthdate, account numbers, credit card information or passwords via email. You should never store your user names and passwords in an electronic file on your computer or in your internet browser.
  • Patch Management – install operating system and application updates on a timely basis. Many of these updates can be set-up to be automatically installed. Hackers will often exploit known vulnerabilities to gain access to your information.
  • Virus and Security Protection – install software that will monitor your computer, network and identity.
  • Wi-Fi Security – be mindful when using free Wi-Fi public hotspots because data being sent over these networks can be intercepted by hackers. It is recommended not to do financial transactions such as on-line banking or shopping where account numbers or credit card information is entered.
  • Protect Your Birth Date – don’t add a birthdate to your social media profiles.
  • Identity Monitoring – there are several services that you can subscribe to for monitoring your on-line security and credit.

When it comes to managing access to our electronically based lives most people would agree that managing passwords for every account is a difficult and frustrating task.  This is often the last project that any of us want to tackle because it takes time, patience and some technical savvy.  SplashData Inc. published a List of Worst Passwords for 2016 and here were the top five on the list:

  • 123456
  • password
  • 12345
  • 12345678
  • football

Here is a list of best practice recommendations for managing passwords:

  • Don’t reuse passwords across accounts – if one account is compromised then other accounts can suddenly be vulnerable.
  • Pick a stronger password – don’t use personally identifiable information such as birthdates, address, children’s names or phrases that are easy to guess. Passwords should contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols and string phrases.
  • Use a password management tool – there are a number of free and paid software applications that can work on computers, tablets and smartphones. Benefits include encrypted file storage either locally or in the cloud, access to information across devices, password auto-generation and automatic sign-in to websites.
  • Keep passwords confidential – never share passwords or send passwords via email. If you keep a written list of passwords, place it in a secure location.
  • Change passwords – change your passwords every six months

I encourage you to take time now to evaluate and secure your on-line presence. A breach to your electronic Identity can impact your email contacts, finances and credit which can result in many hours of work and frustration to get resolved.

Contributed by: Amy Noel