If you’ve heard me speak, or attended one of my workshops, you will know that I am all about giving practical value off the bat. Below are my top 3 internet safety tips.
Internet Safety Tips #1: 1Password
1Password is a password manager – which is a piece of software that keeps track of my passwords so that I don’t have to. It’s also a lot more secure than the usual “Do you want to save this password?” feature of my web browser. I’ll admit it takes a bit of time to get used to and it’s a paid service, but the $2.99 per month I spend on it gives me incredible peace-of-mind.
1Password generates incredibly long, complex, and unique passwords for each of the services I use and remembers them for me. In this way, no two websites that I use have the same password. What this means in practicality, is that when (not if) a site I use gets hacked, and heaven forbid my password falls into the wrong hands, that password will only work for that site. They cannot log into any other service of mine.
Now with having a unique password 24 characters long for each service, there’s no way I’m going to remember this. That’s where the true beauty of 1Password comes in. I have a single master password and security code, which allows me to access my stored passwords. In effect, I only have to remember, wait for it, 1 password. The tool integrates into my browser and is synchronised between my PC, my phone, and my tablet.
Internet Safety Tips #2: Two Factor Authentication (also known as 2FA)
This is a feature found in many services and is a must for anyone using social media. When enabled, 2FA allows for authentication similar to your bank account – a one-time-pin is needed when you log in on a new device. Facebook, LinkedIn, Evernote, and a host of other services support it and where I can, I enable it. On my phone I use an app called Authy to manage the security codes, which roll over every 30 seconds. Take a look through the settings on the sites you use to see about enabling 2FA, chances are it’s easier than you think!
Internet Safety Tips #3: I don’t trust any unexpected emails
We’ve all received emails from one or another Nigerian prince, Saudi sheikh, or wealthy British tycoon, requiring nothing more than a transfer fee to send us our millions. We’ve become so used to these, that we forget that there are new methods of fooling us. Even the bank phishing emails are getting old.
Something that I see a lot of in my consulting recently are mails claiming to be from your service provider stating that your mailbox is full, or your email service is going to be discontinued due to whatever reason. When this happens, don’t select the links and put your details in, rather phone your service provider and have them check, they are just a phone call away.
If any email giving you bad news about an account takes you to a site where you need to put your details in, run away (or at least close the browser window). When you enter your details, you’ve actually given the thieves full access to your email account. When you (or they) reset a password for another account of yours, where does the confirmation email come to? Your email account, which they now have control of. You’ve just compromised any service you use – including your banking and medical aid (which incidentally is one of the “big-ticket-items” for hackers). They can even encrypt your entire email inbox and hold it to ransom!
All things said and done, the Internet is a scary place for your personal information to be, but there are ways and means of protecting it; both with common sense and skepticism, and also by using the many services out there designed to protect us. If you get suspicious emails, messages, or other communications (these thieves even call on your landline to say you have a virus), don’t panic; sit back and think why they would be calling you and if necessary, contact a reputable IT consultant to assist you.
I hope that these internet safety tips were of value to you.