Be Safer Online

 

 

It seems like we hear of security breaches, and hackers way too frequently these days!  So when I heard about a free class offered recently on how to protect yourself online, I signed up.  The Denver Office of Emergency Management offers classes regularly for which you can sign up too!  Check out their schedule:

http://www.denvergov.org/oem/OfficeofEmergencyManagement/Programs/WholeCommunityPreparednessPrograms/CommunityCalendar/tabid/426129/Default.aspx

 

I will share some of what I learned though this could just be a review if you are tech-savvy. Hopefully you will learn something new or be reminded of something you need to do.  Please beware that there is nothing you can do to be 100% safe on the internet and even though you delete your data, what is on the internet is there forever.  So be cautious about what you share and what you say. Use privacy settings as much as possible, and store your passwords safe and securely.

 

The most important security issue for all of us is our passwords.  The experts highly suggest that your password contains a minimum of 8 digits including numbers, symbols, and letters (both upper and lower case) and be random.  Do not use common words, your name, your pet, or date of birth because some of that information could be obtained on the internet.  Never give out passwords by text, email or over the phone to strangers.  Do NOT use the same password for multiple accounts.  Monitor your email for anything suspicious, and review your credit reports yearly to verify accuracy and any discrepancies.  If you wish to change a password, go directly the specific website first rather than clicking on any email links.

 

If you use your computer in a public place beware that there are two types of WIFI: secure and insecure. You should try your best to use secure WIFI as there are no guarantees of security on the non-secure. You can tell that it is insecure if no password is required or it begins with WEP.   Secure sites begin with WPA or WPA2.  Set your mobile device to NOT auto connect.  In fact you should even use a password on your cell phone (if lost or stolen, do you want a stranger to get right in?).

 

One thing you might notice when you access a website (like above) is that it starts with http or https.  The difference is the S at the end means it is extra secure like a padlock (in fact that symbol may appear too) and uses encryption to send data. Your bank and many sites you access should use this extra layer of protection and those are good sites to visit.

 

You probably have heard of viruses that affect your computer?  Also, worms, Trojans, spyware, etc. To avoid those keep your software and antivirus programs up-to-date!  Only download files from trusted sources that you have visited before.  Sometimes even attachments can contain viruses.  Do not open any suspicious email!  An email might come across like it is from a friend, but check the email address as spam comes across with a unique email address even though their name might be part of it.  Definitely do not send money to anyone asking for it in a sob story, deposit a check or wire them money. Delete those or mark as spam immediately.  Never give personal or financial information over your email.  It is easy to replicate any form or even websites that looks legitimate but are not.  Never give out info to those pretending to be your bank or the IRS. You can confirm that over the phone by calling them, and they will usually send written mail if it is important to contact you.  It is highly unlikely you have won any prizes they claim you have in an email. What is too good to be true, likely is.
Here are some other websites for more information on the topics above:

www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect

www.staysafeonline.org

onguardonline.gov

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