Sunday, March 1, 2015

10 Must-Know Security Tips to Protect Your Data, Websites, Social Media Accounts, Email Accounts, and More

It seems more and more businesses and people are getting hacked. The most recent I heard of was a savvy pro-marketer. All his computer files, programs, and other data was actually held ransom. He paid the hackers $500 to get everything back.

Sounds crazy, right?

Well, unfortunately, this is a way of life today. These hackers have sophisticated programs and techniques that can hack almost anything.

And, once in your computer they will have access to your banking information, your credit card information, all you data, all your clients data, and so on, and so on.

Introducing a cyber attack to your computer can be as simple as downloading software on the internet or clicking on a link within an email.

In fact, with home automation (another online ‘convenience’) these hackers can get into a lot more than your computer and online accounts. The can virtually enter your home.

According to an article at DailyMail on cyber attacks, the criminals don’t “have to use sophisticated techniques to break into home appliances, including your front door.” (If  it’s on the system.)

But, I digress. Let’s get back to protecting your online accounts, including your email.

10 Safety Tips to Protect Your Online Accounts and More

1. This is critical – make sure your password is at the very least 10 characters. And, be sure to mix them up. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: use capital and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. And, super important, don’t use any kind of sequences, like abc or 123.

2. Another critical measure – change your passwords on a regular basis. Don’t wait until you get a warning or you’ve been hacked. Cyber criminals are smart . . . and clever. Given enough time, they can figure out your password.

3. Don’t make your security answers obvious. If the question is “Who is Batman’s sidekick?” You can be sure a hacker will guess Robin. If the question is “Who is Donald Duck’s girlfriend?” Don’t answer with Daisy. If it’s common knowledge . . . it’s common knowledge.

4. Keep your passwords unique. This means don’t use the same password for two or more accounts and don’t reuse passwords. If you have trouble coming up with unique passwords, you check out a tool that PC Tools offers: https://identitysafe.norton.com/password-generator/

5. Check with your email service provider to see if they offer a login activity feature. Both Gmail and Yahoo do. This tool will give you recent login activity. Knowing if unauthorized users are in your accounts is a huge deal. It allows you to take immediate security measures.

6. A BIGGIE – Always, always, always sign out of your internet accounts. Whether it’s your email, your social media accounts, you’re websites, online groups, or other, be sure to log out when you’re done. A number of online services, like Google and Yahoo, allow you to stay logged on, even after you move on. This is an unsafe practice. Log out when you’re done.

7. Keep all your passwords safe. It may be convenient to list them on your computer, but don’t do it. Keep a ‘hard copy’ list or keep it on a zip drive (see below for a warning).

8. Don’t open emails you’re not sure of. If it looks suspicious, delete it. And, don’t respond to any emails that request personal information or request you change your password.

9. Secure your computer with antivirus software. It may not prevent a high-tech attack, but it should prevent low-end stuff from happening.

10. Protect your mobile device too. It’s a wise move to use a password on your device and you might want to lock it also.

Note: When using a zip or external drive, if you keep it plugged into your computer and you’re attacked, the hacker will take over your zip drive also. This is what happened to the pro-marketer I mentioned earlier. So, if you do use an external drive be sure to backup your work and then remove the device.

A couple of extra tips or at least my thoughts.

Don’t use cyber automation for your home.  Referencing the DailyMail article again, General Manager of Proofpoint’s Information Security division David Knight says, ‘Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur.”

Use the cloud. There are a number of offsite services you can use to keep your data safe from loss. Services like Carbonite.com and Dropbox.com backup your data on a regular basis. This way if you get hacked or something goes wrong with your computer, you won’t lose vital data.

I hope these tips help keep you ‘cybersafe.’ Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or maybe lots, lots more.

Karen Cioffi is a writer and online platform instructor with two eclasses through WOW! Women on Writing:

Become an SEO Writer in Just 4 Weeks
Get Traffic to Your Website with Inbound Marketing

(Both classes are in-depth and interactive.)

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References

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2541306/Cyber-criminals-hack-REFRIGERATOR-send-malicious-emails-worlds-household-attack.html
http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherskroupa/2014/09/04/cyber-crime-means-business-potentially-yours/

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MORE TO READ

The Shotgun Social Media Strategy
Blogging Smart
Book Marketing as a Beginner

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9 comments:

  1. Karen, thanks so much for this information.

    #6 - wow. I will be sure to log out from now on!

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  2. Kathleen, you're welcome. When I read about the dangers of cyber automation for the home, it clicked just how dangerous this can be. And, now, security experts are saying the keyless entry for cars is vulnerable. It seems it very easy for thieves to access the code and get into your car. YIKES. I'm glad I don't have either. :)

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  3. Thanks. I learned a few things I'm going to implement. I'm going to lengthen my passwords.

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  4. Glad it helped, Mary Jo. I make mine at least 10 characters now.

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  5. Karen, I took a computer course from a former executive at Intel and he said that Microsoft's OneDrive (cloud) is among the safest for backup because it's encrypted. BTW, Sony didn't encrypt their servers the first time they were hacked and then it happened again when Korea attacked them. I think the lesson we take from that is: Lightning does indeedp strike twice in the same place.
    Best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Multi Award-Winning Author of the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers including the second editions of the Frugal Book Promoter (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo and The Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditorKind )The latter is e-book only.for the time being.

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    Replies
    1. Carolyn, thanks for that super-tip. I hadn't even heard of Microsoft's OneDrive. Something to look into!

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  6. PS: I'll use the permalink to this column in my SharingwithWriters newsletter--the March issue!

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  7. I am printing this out and am posting it on my bulletin board. Excellent advice!

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    Replies
    1. Debra, I'm so glad you found it helpful. That's a great idea to keep it front and center. Can't forget safety first that way!

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