5 Online Security Tips You Need to Know

By: Robert Siciliano  |  April 28, 2015

Online Tips

It’s up to the potential victim—the user—YOU—to make your computer or smartphone very difficult for Joe Hackster to infiltrate.


  • Being that cyber crime has been a fixture of modern living for over a decade, you’d think that everyone and his brother would know to use strong, long passwords, and a different password for each account. But people—including those who’ve been around for a long time—continue using the same password and ridiculously weak passwords, like password1 and princess.
  • A very strong password will go a long way in preventing hacking incidents. It should be at least 12 characters and a mixed salad at that: different cases, numbers and symbols, and no words.
  • Every single account should have a different password.
  • Learn which accounts offer two-factor authentication, then activate it. This way, if someone gets your password they still can’t get into your account unless they have your smartphone.

The cloud is cool but not 100 percent secure

  • Sounds funky: “cloud storage.” But the vulnerabilities aren’t necessarily in the cloud service, but in your device security. If your device is vulnerable, if you don’t have security software or update your operating system, you become the criminals path to the cloud service.
  • Because the cloud is such a huge vault for holding all kinds of data, more things just simply can go wrong. The user must decide who’s better at protecting his data: a system with more resources (the cloud), or the user himself?

New doesn’t mean safe.

  • A brand-new computer or mobile device may come with preinstalled “back doors” for hackers. This is legal so that law enforcement can more easily track the bad guys in life. These back doors are vulnerabilities that can let in hackers. Do your research when making an investment in technology and install antivirus immediately.

No software is perfect.

  • Think of antivirus and anti-malware as the “exterminator” who comes to your house to get rid of bugs. There’s a reason that pest control companies no longer refer to themselves as exterminators. This term implies they can kill every last bug and its eggs. They can’t. There will always be a bug somewhere, but the pest control technician can at least prevent infestations and swarms. Likewise, protective software is not 100 percent infallible, but it goes a long way in preventing computer infections.
  • So even though it’s not perfect, you absolutely must use protective software.

Mind the software update messages.

  • Don’t get annoyed by these; allow them to take place. Don’t hit “remind me later,” because chances are this will become a habit. You don’t want to delay the updates. They mean a security hole was detected, and now it can be patched. Don’t wait till later! Better yet, set all security software to automatically update.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to bestcompany.com discussing  identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

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