in Technology, TechTips

Tune up your Online Security in 2017

If you listen to news, you probably heard about a number of data breaches last year. Companies like Linkedin, Yahoo, Adobe, and Dropbox where all hacked, with user information being compromised. If you haven’t changed your passwords in the past year, I encourage you to do so right away, especially if you use the same password for multiple accounts. To check if any of your accounts have been compromised, visit pwned. To check and maintain the security of your iOS/Android device, use Lookout.

Linkedin and Dropbox, which I log into with my gmail account, both revealed data beaches last year.

Protecting yourself online is a hot topic in Tech. This is likely due to frequency of data breaches, and the inadequacy of passwords to protect our accounts. The Guardian has an article on 8 things to do to protect yourself online, with instructions for how to do most of them, which Techrada has a slideshow of 10 items. I’ve compiled a list of 12 recommendations from the two sites:

  • Use unique passwords for all  your accounts. – This is important because when one service gets hacked, only that service will be compromised if you’ve used a unique password.
  • Use a password manager. – It’s difficult to create strong passwords and to remember them for all our accounts. A password manager can automatically generate strong passwords for you and store them for when you need to log in.
  • Use a random password – another reason to use a password manager. Hackers can try to guess passwords using various algorithms, which may be the same one that you use. Curious about your existing passwords? Test them here.
  • Turn on two step verification. – If someone is able to hack your password, make it impossible for them to log in unless they have access to your sms system, phone, or another of your devices to confirm their identity. Get help with this here.
  • Lock down Internet of Things. If you have any Smart devices, change the default passwords so that someone can’t hack into them using the default password.
  • Kept your software up to date. – Often updates are meant to plug security flaws that may allow a hacker access to your data. Turn automatic updates on where possible, especially for your browser, OS, and plugins like Adobe Flash.
  • Use a stronger password on your phone. – Use a 6 digit password and set your phone to wipe after a wrong password is entered 10 times.
  • Never respond to an email or to a phone call with private information. If you get such a request for your data, use your usual communication channels to contact the company yourself to determine if there are any problems with your account.
  • Turn off tracking. Adjust your browser preferences to request that you not be tracked, or add a browser extension to disable tracking. You can also use Private Browsing or Duck Duck Go as your search engine.
  • Fully Encrypt your hard drive. – This protects your data in case your laptop is stolen while it’s turned off. This is a good reminder to turn off  your laptop when you’re traveling with it.
  • Look for the padlock before you lock in or register. – Make sure that https is on, which is a secure browsing protocol.
  • Back up to an external hard drive. – Most of us have experienced a hard drive failure. Avoid this devastating experience by making sure you mirror your hard drive onto an external hard drive. Keep it plugged in, or plug it in on some set schedule.

Related Links

Featured image: Steal Password, CC BY-SA 4.0, by Psyomjesus