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Living in a High Tech world

Technology - by - February 24, 2014 - 09:26 Etc/GMT+5 - Be first to Comment!

Spent a good part of my weekend improving our online security.  One big part of this improvement was to tighten up some of my online accounts.  We have all seen the new stories of the massive data breeches, the stolen credit card data, the big hacks & wide scale identity theft.  And while we need to be careful, there is not a lot we can do with our data that other people have. But what we can improve is the security of the small things.

Step 1: Passwords

  • DON’T reuse the same user name and password at multiple sites.
  • DO use complex passwords.  Use a password generator to help make appropriate passwords.
  • Use a password vault to keep track of your passwords.

 I have been amazed with how my brain has actually been able to keep track of quite a few different complex passwords.  There are 8-10 passwords that I use multiple times a week that I can remember that random string of 12-16 characters and numbers I generated (and I would expect this is very healthy exercising our brains).  But for the rest of those passwords I need occasionally, I use 1password to generate and store the passwords.  I have access to these passwords via the app on my phone / iPad or by the button in the browsers of the computers I use.  There are many other good password vaults out there, it doesn’t take much searching to find one.

Step 2: Update your accounts

  • Start making your way thru ALL of your online accounts, making sure your information is current.  If you don’t have a current email address on the account, you will never know when someone hacks your account and starts spamming all your friends.
  • Update the password.
  • If you haven’t used an online account for a long time and you don’t think you need it, delete it!
  • See if there is advanced security available, enable it if possible.

Advanced security options such as 2 step verification reduce the chances of anyone getting to far into stealing your identity.  Since I almost always have my phone next to me, I have no problem with my accounts sending me a verification number via text anytime I log into them from an unknown computer.  A few extra seconds can keep your account from being hijacked.

Step 2: Physical security

Yes, it plays a roll in keeping you secure online.

  • Shred anything that has more personal information on it than just your name before it going in the recycling (you are recycling, right?).
  • DO NOT throw out, give away or recycle computers, phones or other devices that have your data on them without first making sure that data is completely wiped.  Just deleting it is NOT enough.  Use a disk wiper software or if it is really dead, make sure the hard-drives are physically disabled.  Not sure how?  Google it, the results can be quite entertaining.
  • Protect your property – a stolen phone or computer can give a lot of information about you to the wrong people.
  • Secure your property – using strong passwords / pass codes on your devices and using the home directory encryption options can go a long way towards keeping your data safe if your device is lost or stolen.

Step 3: Surf Online Safely

  • Install and use a good anti-virus, anti-malware and firewall (Lots of options, right now I like Avast )
  • Use a private VPN connection when on open or public hotspots (Coffee shops, Hotel rooms…)
  • Use a more secure browser – Firefox or Chrome are a good starting place.
  • Use ad blocking software
  • Use a secure dns if possible.
  • Keep your software and operating systems updated.

Step 4: Protect yourself from the good guys


Of course there is much more you can do, I am still figuring some of this out.  And it is ever changing, so you have to keep yourself up to date with the change to.

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