Online Account Security starts with you, I will explain how to stay safe with the help of the two following words;
Vigilance and Responsibility.
That’s right 2 words. Two words that can be your friend or worst enemy when not respected. I am going to go over these 2 words and show you how to use them in your favour. I am going to show you how to implement this with using common logic and common sense. Best of all I am going to show you using my 20 years of experience in Information Technology as a Network Engineer, owner of an IT Service Company and my personal security knowledge’s and habits!
What I am going to talk about and offer you is a number of tips and tricks that I have employed over the years to keep as safe as possible when transacting and exchanging information online. I find the only thing stopping people from employing these techniques is laziness to do the extra steps. When it’s too late and you realize one of my steps would have stopped a compromise the thinking rapidly changes.
So one quick sentence without elaboration. If you are still using Windows XP, get rid of it. Hackers are waiting to find you.
First let’s talk about online transactions.
Online purchases are at an all-time high and growing. With all the new plans for future buying and delivery, it’s the wave of the future, so it needs to be done responsibly and with vigilance. So what do I mean?
1. HTTPS/SSL – Only send your information through a site offering a secure connection. Look for the little lock in the address bar indicating the site is secure using HTTPS/SSL Security. If you don’t see it, don’t input or send your personal information.
2. PayPal – Only use PayPal when making online purchases, No account? Create one! A PayPal account allows the user to enter their credit card information when adding it to your PayPal account. This gives you the security of using your credit card to make online purchases by using PayPal to do it. The Security is not having enter your credit card information for every purchase. This avoids having your Credit card information stored on another site you made a purchase from.
3. Password management and Complexity
Change your passwords every 3 to 6 months. Use 9 digits with complexity, for example, 1 upper case, one lowercase, one number and one special character. This is considerably more complex than the standard 8 character password that most websites require. This would take far longer to hack which deters hackers.
-Use a password manager. This keeps track of your password history. Creates new password or can audit your past or existing ones for complexity. This is a great tool for keeping track of all your passwords. Some popular products include, 1Password, Keeper, LastPass and Dashlane.
4. Two step verification with this feature in place it reduces the chance of account compromises significantly. No Statistics are available as it is reasonably new and not yet widely adopted by account holders due to the extra processes involved – PURE LAZINESS!!!!
Allow me to explain. I will use Gmail as an example. If you are at a computer that you have not logged on to Gmail before. When you submit your credentials, if the 2 step verification process is enabled, then one of the configurations available for it is the cell phone you place on file. You will be sent a 4 digit security code that must to be entered into the PC you are accessing your email on to gain access. So a hacker that may have stolen or hacked your password still gets no access. This will also alert you to the fact someone is fraudulently trying to access your account, giving you warning.
5. #Social2Step Verification not fully used by all Social Outlets Let’s talk about the #Social2Step. This is a Hashtag I created to make people aware that it is available with Email providers, LinkedIn and most recently due to the celebrity nude photo scandal, ICloud. The hashtag is also to put pressure on the other Social Media and online sites storing our personal information to offer it as a security option. IT’s time to make the Online Sites take responsibility for their part in our security and keeping our information safe!
Let’s not put any one Social Media outlet on the chopping block but let’s say they all need to offer, the Two – Step verification method. I’m not quite sure why it has not been adopted as the Standard widely by Online sites considering Microsoft and Google’s free email services both offer this as an option for account ownership verification. This will not solve the problem but will significantly reduce it. We all need to be vigilant about such principals, in order to reduce the chances of such breaches as a whole.I have offered a number of tips and tricks if used together will reduce the chances of you experiencing security issues as I have described. This is happening to people everywhere. It is up to us as a community to be responsible and vigilant with our online security and remember to do the #Social2Step if you wish to really minimize account compromises.