Internet Intro: Security tips and tricks
Having provided the Comox Valley with Web Development, Marketing, and Branding services for over 10 years we’ve learned a few handy tips and tricks for keeping ourselves secure online. Today we’re going to share these tips with you!
Think before you click and always be vigilant when browsing online! Whether it’s links to articles on your Facebook feed, or searching for something on Google, you should always be cautious when spending time online. Sure that post shared on Facebook by that random stranger on the local rant and rave page might look interesting but how do you know it’s safe? Our tips below can help keep you safe and secure when you’re spending time online.
Tip #1: Passwords
Passwords are one of the weakest areas in personal cyber security. As the basic standard for passwords your password should be 8 or more characters long contain a mix of capital letters and lowercase letters, contain a number and contain a special character. For example: Th1s_Is*ExaMpL3!
Your passwords should not contain birthdates, anniversaries, pet names, or your address. Anything that could be guessed or deduced based upon basic information about yourself should never be used in passwords. In truth, you should use randomly generated passwords that are long and strong. Google Chrome has a great “Suggest password” button that will suggest a strong, randomly generated password for you. Other services such as passwordgenerator.net or lastpass.com provide free, strong passwords.
While it may be inconvenient and irritating to have a random password there are services that help. Google saves all your login information if you want it to, including passwords to various sites or accounts. Kapersky or LastPass are services that provide password protection services. They store your passwords, monitor the dark web for potential issues or leaks, and more.
Lastly, make sure you change your passwords regularly! By regularly we mean at least once every 3 months or so. Particularly more often for really important accounts such as online banking or your CRA account. Any account that contains vital information that could be detrimental if it was leaked should be changed often.
Tip #2: Browse safely
Remember, not everything you see or read online is truthful or safe. Cybercriminals know people are sometimes tempted by dubious or ‘shock and awe’ content and may let their guard down when searching for it. One careless click could expose personal data or infect your device with malware. This is especially important if you are using public wi-fi. When using public Wi-Fi you have no control over security so don’t use it to do things like online banking or filing taxes. Keep your information safe! Use your judgment and keep a healthy dose of skepticism for most things you read online. If you’re not sure, don’t click!
Change your passwords on a regular basis! We recommend at least every 3 months, and even sooner for important accounts such as online banking.
Tip #3: Use, and run, your antivirus often
It may seem trivial and like something that often just does its own thing, but your antivirus software on your computer is critical for online safety! Anytime you download anything from the internet such as a program, an image, a video etc. your antivirus program runs checks to ensure it’s safe. Make sure your antivirus is up to date and running on a regular schedule. Malicious software or programs can be embedded into seemingly harmless content but can do a lot of damage. If you think your computer has a virus we recommend taking it into a professional. Removing malicious programs can be time-consuming and difficult as they are often coded in a way to spread quickly throughout your entire computer.
Tip #4: Use 2 factor authentication
2-Step Verification helps to keep out anyone who shouldn’t have access to your account by requiring you to use a secondary factor on top of your username and password to log in to your account. Typical secondary factors include cell phone or email. So what does this mean for logging in? When you go to log in to an account, let’s just say your online banking, it will ask for your username and password. After entering those it will then move on to your 2-step verification spot. If you have your phone connected it will call or text you with a verification code, if it’s your email it will email you a code. After entering the code into the correct spot you will then be able to enter your account! It’s a time-consuming, and sometimes irritating, process but it’s so important for keeping you safe.
Stay vigilant online, you never know who or what might be lurking on the internet. Make sure your passwords are secure and updated regularly, you’d be amazed how much damage a malicious person/bot can do with just one of your passwords! Never use anniversaries, pet names, addresses, or children as your passwords, these are easily guessable and can often be found with a quick search of your social media. Set up 2-factor authentication when available, this will really help keep you secure. There’s more information on the internet about you than you realize!