Many websites you come in contact with will pose a threat to your online security, because they’re not able to keep up with quickly changing cyber threats. These few tasks, properly applied, will make a huge improvement in securing your personal identity while surfing the web.
- Be sure to use a strong password with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters in a string of at least 11 in length. It takes only a few minutes to crack an eight-character password, but simply adding three more characters may add weeks to that time, often causing cybercriminals to move on to the next opportunity.
- It sounds like a pain, but you need to use different passwords (and usernames if possible) for your various accounts, especially your critical financial and merchant accounts. If you need help remembering, don’t be afraid to use an online password vault (onepass, anypass, etc.).
- Make sure to use secure browsing. Most browsers show small padlock symbol in the address bar that will be closed if your browser is secure, and most put a green background on the URL. When you’re using a search engine, you can type “https://” in front of the website address (https://www.google.com or https://www.amazon.com). Simply adding the “s” makes the search secure.
- On many sites, logging off doesn’t happen automatically when you close your browser. Be safer by logging out of your account.
- Turn off your computer when you’re not using it. If it has been compromised, it can’t be used if it’s not turned on. System slow-downs, excess disk activity and suspicious messages popping up on your screen can be indicators of compromise.
- Watch what you post to social media. The bad guys like to hang out there, just waiting to pick up your personal information.
- Smartphone apps can be infected with malware that can compromise your privacy. Only load apps from trusted sources such as the Apple or Google stores, never from an email or other website unless you have thoroughly researched it.