If you’re like me, you probably spend a good amount of your time on your computer. Maybe you upload photos to Flickr, download some popular applications, share information on Facebook and Twitter, or fill out online forms. If so, you should ask yourself: “Am I cyber safe? Is my computer protected from online threats? Are my files and sensitive information in danger of being compromised?”
If you’re not sure, StaySafeOnline.org outlines steps you can take to protect your computer. In fact, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). For the 5th year, the goal of National Cyber Security Awareness Month has been to encourage users to take additional security measures to protect their computers. I myself have fallen prey to a “phishing” e-mail but there are other common threats such as viruses, spyware, and botnets that we have to watch out for.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to arm ourselves. Most of us have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed along with a firewall enabled on our PC’s. Still, there are three easy things you can do for added security.
1. Choose Strong Passwords. One of the best ways to protect your data is to create strong (and different) passwords for each account. Strong passwords include a combination of at least 8 upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers.
Do not use personal information (like your children’s names) that someone may already know or find out easily. Not sure what your password should be? Strong Password Generator can help you come up with a good one and a way to remember it. Perhaps most importantly, avoid storing your passwords on your computer.
2. Keep Track of Your Passwords. An excellent way to keep track of all your passwords is with Password.log which can hold up to 100 of them. It also has enough room on every page to update each account when you change passwords.
Yes, you should change your passwords every 90 days and immediately if you believe your account has been compromised. At just $5.00, it’s a great buy and also small enough to fit in your desk desk drawer (or purse). It goes without saying, but be sure to keep your passwords in a safe place inaccessible by others.
Update: Check out the Internet Password Organizer. It’s larger, spiral-bound, and doesn’t scream, “Hey, all my passwords are in here!” ~Deb, 11.17.10 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Update: Consider these alternatives to using a hard drive: Dropbox, Office Drop, Shoeboxed, or PogoPlug ~Deb, 11.17.10 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________