6 Tips for Increasing Your Online Security

Several decades ago, if someone had mentioned the word “fraud”, you probably would have thought of a counterfeiter or someone who wrote fraudulent checks. Today we live in an age of ever-increasing technology where we can access the Internet, contact friends, watch movies, take pictures, listen to music and much more, all on a phone that fits in our palm. Although this new technology brings a lot of convenience and joy into our lives, it also brings new concerns and threats–online security and identity theft.

Protecting our identity is important. I found an article (click here) from a local news station that had some great tips on protecting your identity online.

6 tips for increasing your online security


online security

Sample of a typical phishing email.

1-Beware of phishing scams: In phishing scams, hackers pretend to be a well known business, such as your bank, and try to get your important information. Often this comes in the form of an email. If you see an email that asks you to enter personal information or is from an unknown source, do not reply to it. Also, if an unknown email has a link, do not click on it because it might contain viruses.

2–Keep Certain Details Safe: There is a new type of attack called “social engineering” where hackers try to piece together an identity from small details. Be very careful about what you post on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

3–Beware of Authorized Apps: Apps that you have authorized for Facebook or Twitter have full access to your profile information and can have serious security holes. Some may even be scams, viruses or have malicious intent. Only authorize apps that you trust. Both Facebook and Twitter now have sites where you can control privacy settings.

4–Know Where Your Credit Card Number is Going: When you are paying for items online, it is important to know that the website you are using is safe. Look for SSL certificates and the HTTPS:// logo before the URL address. Also look for a little security lock on the right side of the address. Now many websites have the address highlighted in green to let you know that they are secure. Also look for security or trust seals that show that the website has had PCI Compliance scans.

5–Avoid Using Your Credit Card Number: If you are really worried about your credit card information being stolen,  most credit card companies offer disposable or temporary card numbers. These can be used once or twice and then discarded. That way, if a hacker gets a hold of your information, they cannot use the card for repeated purchases. You can also use Paypal which is a secure way to make purchases online.

6–Use Secure Passwords: One report showed that 90% of passwords are susceptible to hackers. According to this article, the top 10,000 passwords access 98% of accounts. Some guidelines for making secure passwords include…

  • Don’t use words from a dictionary (in any language)
  • Don’t use personal information
  • Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts (this is a BIG no-no)
  • Use 6-9 characters
  • Use upper and lowercase letters
  • Use symbols such as @ # &_

The biggest password problem is when people use the same password for multiple accounts. One reason they do this is because it is difficult to remember so many different and complicated passwords. This article suggests using a variation of your password. For example if your password is A^jl4Um&Q, you could do A^jl4Um&Q_net, for your netflix account and A^jl4Um&Q_fac, for your facebook account. That way you don’t duplicate passwords, but it is easier to remember.

By using these safety tips, you can go online and feel more secure knowing that you’re taking necessary steps to protect your identity and online security.



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