5 Steps to Better Internet Security
We download torrents and open files recklessly thinking that because we have free anti-virus installed we’re protected from spam and malware. Until ….
It’s learning the hard way.
Last week someone from the Dallas area got hold of my FaceBook password and posted some free iPad offer. Thanks to my friend, Brian at Briancormier.com who alerted me to this, I was quickly able to go into “red alert” and change my email and FaceBook passwords, tune up my FaceBook security settings and fasten a U-lock around my C drive.
Some ways of avoiding disaster are pretty obvious: don’t click on links if you don’t know the source. If someone offers you something that looks too good to be true – it is.
These are rules we learned when email spam was the only spam not in a can that we encountered.
Here are five basic things we can do to improve our chances of not being hacked:
1. Use a stronger password !
It is understandable that a strong password is harder to memorize and might be forgotten if the account is not used regularly. Write it on a piece of paper and place it in your wallet if you must.
That is the best method to protect your password from being compromised electronically. The best password is more than 6 characters long and combines both alphanumeric characters and special characters such as “$,%,# …etc”. (You can see from this diagram that the time it took to crack the account is directly proportional to the complexity of the password.)
2. Don’t answer the security question truthfully.
Probably the answer to “What city were you born in?” is available on your blog or numerous profiles. Make something up; maybe the city that you wished you were born in.
3. Don’t use the same password for every account!
That’s just lazy – and I WAS guilty of it. And don’t use the same password for your Twitter account that you do for your web banking access. Keep a log of your passwords. There a a number of Password Management programs available, some are free such as KeePass.
4. Raise the security level.
Gmail is currently the only webmail service that allows you to encrypt not just your log-in information but your messages as well. The encryption of the messages will make it harder for hackers to capture your information when connecting through a public hotspot. This security feature is off by default on your Gmail account. To enable it click “settings” on the top right of your Gmail account, go to the General tab, and under “Browser connection” select “Always use https”.
5. Reset your password regularly.
While it might have been a bother to come up with a good password in the first place, it is not advisable to use it forever. It is recommended to change the passwords of your accounts at least once every 30-72 days.
Note: The reason I know that I was hacked by someone in the Dallas area is that I discovered at the bottom of my GMAIL page, (just under the line that tells me how much of my allotted space I’ve used), a line that tells me which IP address has accessed my account. Normally, it is always the same. However, last week, there were two IP addresses from the United States of America. I did an IP search and discovered it came from an IP Host company in the Dallas TX area. I sent them an email with a CC to Google. I’m not expecting a reply – but they know that I know!
A similar “alert” service is available on FaceBook.
Step 1 – Log in to Facebook and simply click on the “Account” drop down in the top right corner of the site. Then click on “Account Settings”.
Step 2 – After you are in your account settings, simply click on the “change” link directly next to “Account Security” toward the bottom of the page. From there you will be able to turn on notifications for each login that takes place from a new device.
There are many helpful sites on the web that go into great detail about protecting your web presence. But the key is literally your password. Protect it and renew it often.
Have you been the victim of spam or profile stealing? If so, what did you do about it?
About Ray Hiltz
Ray Hiltz is a Social Media Strategist with management roots in restaurant, hotel and performing arts. A strong proponent for the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking, Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus. His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and individuals just trying to make sense of "social". Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.