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Everyday IT Security Risks and Tips

By April 14, 2015September 9th, 2020Blog

Every day, millions of us use our connected devices for just about everything you can think of – email, shopping, gaming, banking, and so much more.  In fact, the average U.S. household has nearly five connected devices.  This means managing multiple passwords, subscriptions, and software updates.

In addition to the hassles of managing several devices, many of us also tend to overlook some simple security measures to ensure that our computers and information stay safe.  Here are some tips:

  • Create unique passwords for each site and make sure that each one contains at least eight characters.  Avoid easy-to-guess passwords such as “password,” “123456,” and “qwerty.”  Including special characters, spaces, capital letters, and numbers will make your password even more secure. When choosing a password, try to make it by writing a sentence that you can easily remember. For example: “Los Angeles Lakers will win the NBA tournament this year”. Then pick up the first letters of each word and also add at the beginning or at the end (or at both parts) some special characters and numbers. For example, with the last sentence you could get the password: =3LALwwtNtty$. This method lets you come up with easy-to-remember passwords that are also hard to crack and you avoid the need to write such a long password down in order to remember it.
  • When entering personal information into a website, make sure that the URL starts with https://.  The “s” stands for secure and means that any information entered into the website is encrypted so that no one else can access it.
  • Use caution when connecting to unfamiliar Wi-Fi networks.  These networks are sometimes referred to as “zombie” networks and can be the gateway to malware or viruses.
  • Before you get rid of electronics, be sure you have important files and then clear them of all data. Then look for places to donate or recycle. Most states have banned computers and components from landfills. To find recycling programs in your area, surf to your favorite search engine and type “computer recycling.”
  • Did you know there are keyboard shortcuts other than CRTL+ALT+DEL that you can use to lock your desktop? This will prevent people from walking up and snooping on your computer. You can save a keystroke by simultaneously pressing the Windows key + L.
  • If your browser questions a website’s security, stop, think, and verify.
  • When visiting the “https” secure sites of banks and online shopping retailers, you may see an onscreen warning, such as “There is a problem with the website’s security certificate” or “Secure Connection Failed.” Don’t just click to continue or to make an exception. The warning may only indicate that there is a harmless temporary problem with the site or with the network. But it can also mean that the site is bogus or has been compromised by hackers, and someone is listening in on your conversation with your bank or retailer.
  • Don’t click on links in pop-ups or banner advertisements. In July 2007, when iPhones were scarce and strongly in demand, Botnet herders put software on already infected computers that redirected users browsing for iPhones to phony websites. The malware caused pop-ups and banner advertisements on infected computers; clicking on the provided links took users to the phony sites. People who attempted to buy iPhones from the sites were actually providing the Bad Guys with their personal and financial information. You can expect to see something similar for any fad that comes along. When your heart is tempted by the latest hot fad, don’t throw caution to the wind.
  • When selecting a username…make sure it doesn’t say too much about you. Screen names that hint at personal interests, hobbies, or favorite sports, combined with other clues in your profile will give enough information for someone to figure out who you are and where they can find you.

Good luck and happy browsing!

Alisha Khan, PEI

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