Easy Does It: Why protecting your identity is rooted in simplicity

Identity theft and protecting your computer go hand in hand, but as much as we want to turn this into a no one is safe discussion (which has merit), you must first ask yourself one very important question.

Are you doing enough to protect yourself? Furthermore, what about the simple things you can do, the day to day easy practices, that are tailor made to keep your identity and subsequently your computer safe.

We all have that friend who is constantly talking about computer viruses or having their identity stolen, and you don’t have to look (or think) for very long to realize that their bad habits have plagued them when it comes to this issue.

For starters, you should make it a point to stop filling out information online that includes all your pertinent statistics (particularly social security number and address. This goes for these so called online polls or anything that tells you to sign and get something for free (pop up ads or offers).

Quite possibly the easiest way to protect your computer is to make sure you have a password that protects anyone else logging into it or you have it set up to sleep mode rather quickly if you’re away from it. How often do you use your computer in a public setting? If you’re doing that, chances are you want to stay on top of that screen, even if you step away to grab a cup of coffee, that’s how easily someone can refresh and start going to work, or even worse if it somehow gets stolen out from underneath you completely.

Along the same lines as the password are those pesky (but relevant) security questions that help determine that the person logging into an account actually is you. Often times, you’ll have to answer at minimum one but usually three to four to be able to access anything. We tend to pick questions and answer them accordingly, but the general rule of thumb is to lie about the answers with some response that is far fetched, just in case your identity falls into the wrong hands.

There isn’t one way or an iron clad way to protect your identity, as anyone is susceptible to having their identity compromised. But if you’re just leaving it up to chance and also exhibiting habits that are detrimental and often invite hackers right into your living room so to speak, then you’re not just helping identity theft experts.

You’re practically giving your identity away.

Simple Solution: Computer privacy doesn’t have to be overly difficult

As technologically advanced as most internet hackers or those who can steal your identity seem to be, sometimes it is the easiest measure you can take to keep your computer private and your name and other valuable information and numbers quite the secret.

The other irony of computer and identity privacy is we all understand that, through the news stories and information about how easily identities can be stolen, yet we tend to overlook the simple things we can do to keep everything safe and sound.

Case in point, how many times have you used a public Wifi and done something silly on that medium? What exactly do we mean by silly?

Have you ever checked your bank statement online while you’re sitting at a coffee shop? What about logging into a credit card statement sitting at Barnes and Noble?

These are really the epitome of bad judgment as it relates to computer privacy and keeping your identity safe. You should always make it a point to do one of two things: either log in using some sort of VPN login, or make sure the Wifi is password protected. Now, if you need to log in to a public network, if it’s absolutely necessary or if you’re just looking to surf the web aimlessly to kill time, make sure you simply steer clear of punching in anything from your social security number to a credit card number.
So, no ordering shoes online at the airport while waiting for your flight.

Furthermore, what is easier than simply signing out of your computer or anything that is password related online. If you’re paying a bill, logging into your email or your computer is left alone in a public place for any period of time (then again, why would you ever do that), make sure you log off or at least, in the last example, lock your screen and PC.

Finally, your password has been the same since you’ve first had your email and your first computer. The reason your company asks you to change your password once every 30 days, they’re doing so to protect your privacy, so why wouldn’t you do that for yourself on your own computer?

Maybe your work isn’t so dense after all.

You want to change your password every 30 to 60 days, and if you can at least change your password at minimum three times per year, that should deter hackers and keep you at least safer than you were when you weren’t practicing these potentially identity and privacy saving practices.

Private eyes: Common computer mistakes plague privacy

Now more than ever, being smart about what you’re doing on your computer is paramount.

The same couldn’t be said during the infancy stages of the world wide web, mostly because it wasn’t so worldly or wide, but today’s version of the internet, along with emails, social networking and anything else you freely do online, needs to be policed, parented and paid close attention to constantly.

As an individual, you have the responsibility to use the internet wisely and to make good decisions as it relates to anything and everything you do daily online.

The world wide web is all about communication, and nothing is more convenient and preferred than email, which allows you to be a little more sincere with your comments aside from texting and is also rooted in not only personal emails but also work related items.

But what tends to put us at risk for online privacy issues is being haphazard with our emails, namely the ones we open that clearly look as though they were concocted with nothing but bad intentions in mind.

What makes that revelation even more ridiculous is when you can clearly see this looks and sounds phony, but yet you still open it up because curiosity didn’t just kill the cat, but also any chance you have of protecting yourself from an online hacker.

Scam and spam is easy to spot with two easy mentions: bad spelling and the “too good to be true” mantra that lures you into an unenviable situation. Simply put, if they can’t spell (think of a prize that you “one”) or you just won $10,000 and all you need to do is “click here” to claim it, then you’re on the cusp of having someone tap into your personal information and your PC in general.

Another easy way to avoid privacy being compromised is to not ignore how you handle and choose your passwords. You should shy away from having your PC or Mac remember your password, and also never forget to log out of an account, particularly your banking information and email. Furthermore, make sure your password that you choose has some complexity to it, and don’t ignore numbers or special characters as a means to differentiate from others that are common.

And as long as you stay away from WiFi connections that aren’t password protected (you might want to think about using your banking info or other important info on your home router), you should be well on your way to keeping your personal security just that: personal.

Private in Parts: The sum of all you do daily protects your PC

Your privacy is your privacy, no matter whether you’re talking about anything from your social security number to your bank pin code or anything else that can swept out from underneath you and used again you as far as your identity is concerned.

Computer privacy, when this discussion rises to the forefront, is almost always the center of attention and trying to mitigate exactly how safe (or unsafe) you are is pertains to keeping everything on your PC and what you use it for totally untouchable by the average hacker or someone that is a little more adept at stealing your identity.

One overlooked tip is to keep you email address away from anything that would be considered more of a sales ploy (such as mass emails or marketing lists) or anything else that you might want to do that is more flippant than your average, work related or banking related email for instance.

The better option is to pick an email address that is a throwaway account of sorts, one you use for things such as the aforementioned items and isn’t one you have connected to any sort of personal information that you might be entering into your PC.

As far as personal emails or information of that ilk, you might want to consider using your home computer more so than a work one. The work one is fine, but not if you aren’t aware of the kind of protection the server has and just how easily it can be compromised. My work, for instance, is secured through a VPN sign in that has to be done by a company employee and the WiFi is always password protected (another aspect you can’t overlook for computer privacy).

That VPN allows me to feel more comfortable using a work computer for personal information; some companies aren’t quite as secure, although the resident IT person might say otherwise. The fact remains is that if you’re not sure, then you shouldn’t be checking your bank statement or account balances online, among other things.

Finally, and the most obvious, is stop giving out your email or opening up and relying to spam accounts and emails. And you might be thinking, who in the world still pays attention to spam or even remotely entertains the idea of reading it, but you’d be surprised to find that the average person still dabbles in the decadence that is spam emails.

Your privacy is paramount, and you don’t want anything related to it compromised, but you have to look at fixing the little things, the small parts, to make an overall, large scale change to just how wide open your identity truly is.

Privacy Plan: Keeping your PC protected from hackers is all about diligence

Five words no PC owner wants to hear: “Your computer has been hacked.”

The feeling that washes over your entire body is one of fear, can range from trying to ask the question why and rehashing exactly what could have happened.

You may try to reason with yourself that you took all the steps necessary to keep this from happening, then begin wondering if you really were as safe and sound or if you had some sort of loophole in your game plan.

How exactly can you work a little harder to keep your PC safe?

A lot of it rests on that slip up of sorts when you make your PC so available because you’re too set on convenience. What exactly does that mean? Think public WiFi and how often you use it for something as simple as checking email or as complicated and ill conceived as online banking.

The latter opens you up to hackers getting bank account information, at the very least and siphoning money from accounts before you realize it or your virtual wallet or online bank realizes what has happened.

Searching your internet history hardly is the worst thing that can happen, but that history also plays into just how easily hackers can get into your account. From pop up adds to sites that are easily hacked to junk email that you shouldn’t open, plenty of us have struggled with avoiding clicking on or visiting sites that are less than desirable as far as protecting your computer.
You also have to remember that your browser isn’t a default or a decision you don’t need to make. Internet Explorer is fine
A recent report suggested that the smart PC users and computer owners in general change passwords on a consistent basis. That means the log in screen and any password that you choose to save when the dialog box pops up and asks you want to save this password for this site.

Chances are when you’re talking about your email, you’ve given the green light to save a password and lived to regret it when that email password, when you type it in, all of a sudden says your password is wrong.

Then, you’re trying to track down Yahoo or Google to switch a password that you know you didn’t forget but rather someone else found. Some invest in password generator software, which devises a password that is so complex and strong that hackers have a hard time figuring it out, especially when you’re not adept at changing them enough to be different from the last.

You don’t have to be a victim of computer privacy not working in your favor as long as you’re taking the steps necessary to prevent it over and above what you’re already doing.

Tips for Safely Banking and Shopping Online

Identity theft and other crimes are growing in numbers for Internet users. More than 12 million people fall victim to various types of identity theft, according to statistics provided by the Statistics Brain Research Institute. Online banking and online shopping are extremely convenient for busy consumers. However, they can be dangerous for consumers who are unaware of all the predators that sneak around the Internet. The following are some helpful tips for consumers who shop or bank online:

Use Anti-Virus and Malware Software

The first step in protecting oneself during any Internet shopping experience is installing anti-virus software or malware software. A wide variety of companies makes software that helps consumers to combat computer viruses. Many of them offer free trial periods, as well. Interested persons can search the web for the best products and services for their protection.

Change Browser Settings

Another thing that a consumer can do to stop hackers and ID thieves from getting their information is change browser settings. Some browser settings keep personal information like passwords in their databases. Such information is not good to have in any database except the user’s mind.

Do Not Save Credit Card Information

Some shopping websites offer consumers the opportunity to save their credit card information to the website to save them time during future transactions. The feature is dangerous because a hacker can steal the consumer’s personal information by hacking into the company’s computer. Consumers should always turn down the opportunity to save credit card information on a website.

Shop on Secure Sites

Another way that a consumer can protect his or her wallet is by shopping on secure sites only. Secure sites have a few distinguishing characteristics about them. One is the address. The address of a secure site will always start with an https:// to signify its encryption. Secure sites usually advertise their security with icons, accolades and information so that visitors will feel safe, as well.

Erase History

Lastly, consumers should erase their browsing history or browse anonymously whenever possible. It helps to cut down on IP tracking and Internet stalking. Firefox and some other browsers allow their users to surf the Internet and travel about the Internet in an incognito fashion.

Consumers and Internet users can protect themselves and avoid being victims of identity theft and bank account hacking. All they need to do is be careful and uses some of the aforementioned tips.

Is Free Wi-Fi Really Free?

The United States currently hosts thousands of free Wi-Fi locations. The Open Wi-Fi website quotes the number as 66,198 with new hotspots developing every day. These locations include coffee shops, libraries, restaurants and the like. Frugal consumers love to take their laptops and tablets into this location because of the free Internet connection, but some of them may be getting more than they bargained for. Some of them may be getting infiltrated, infected and monitored.
How Safe Is a Wi-Fi Connection?
Wi-Fi connections aren’t as safe as some people tend to believe they are. The biggest problem with Wi-Fi connection is the data encyrptoin. The primary technologies that people use to encrypt wireless data are WEP and WPA. WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access and WEP stands for Wireless Equivalent Privacy. WPA is the most secure choice of the two choices. However, they are not implemented many times because of the complex nature of the technologies. The result is severe user vulnerability.
Why Public Wi-Fi Connections Are Dangerous
Many mishaps and destructive processes can occur when encryption is not present. One thing that can happen to a user is the loss of privacy. Hackers can monitor the webistes that they frequent, which can be disturbing for people who appreicate their privacy. Intruders can steal important documents, as well. They can access pictures, videos, text files and more. Another thing that intruders can do is capture the login information of a person’s frequented sites. Any websites that the person does not visit frequently may be subject to hacking an intrusion through the use of keyloggers. Malicious persons can invade someone’s mobile devices, as well. So much is a stake when a person is not careful on the Internet.
How to Prevent Hacking During a Wi-Fi Connection
One thing that a user can do to stay safe is enable two-step authentication. Two-step authentication requires a person to have to use two pieces of identification to log into an important website. Changing one’s passwords frequently can help elminate security issues, as well. A good rule-of-thumb practice is to change the passwords at least once every three months. Finally, a Wi-Fi user will want to install an antivirus program to avoid interference. The user can avoid or minimize security breaches by following the previously mentioned tips. Taking precautionary steps can prevent irreparable damage from occurring.

Crucial Password Safety Tips

Keeping one’s Internet credentials safe and secure should be every computer user’s top priority. Identity theft is a horrible occurence that happens to more than 15 million people in the world each year.

Hacking and account stealing are two subdivisions of identity theft by which people can wreak havoc on other people. A person can impersonate another person online, and he or she can destroy that person’s reputation. Users can protect themselves by implementing some obvious and not-so-obvious strategies:

Pick a Head-Scratching Password

Head-scratching passwords are passwords that other people can’t easily crack using a person’s personal information. Far too many people create passwords that are easy for them to remember. They use parts of their name, birth dates and cities thinking, “This is great! I’ll remember!” Unfortunately, a malicious person can remember, too! Most sites ask users to create an eight-character password that has at least two numbers in it. The user should choose numbers that do not repeat and a word that has nothing to do with anything that someone else could easily guess.

Say No to Staying logged In

Many sites such as Yahoo Mail ask visitors if they want to stay logged in for two weeks. The feature is convenient because it saves the user 10 to 15 seconds. However, the feature leaves account holders vulnerable to hacking, and it leaves account holders vulnerable to having other people read their mail.

Say No to Storage

Personal information storage is a feature that some websites and web browsers have. No computer user should have such a feature intact. Bad software or malware, viruses and hacking programs can get hold of this information and do much harm to a person. Users should deactivate any such a feature by finding the setting and hitting the “off” button.

Change the Password Frequently

Users should change their password frequently to increase the security on the account. Some sites have an automatic password changing prompt, while other sites do not. A computer user should change the password at least once every three months. Protection improves with change frequency.

The previously mentioned tips can help a person to protect the most crucial accounts against identity theft and destruction. Consumers should use those tips and as many others as they can accumulate. Anti-virus software, malware killers and other protective sources can assist with theft protection, as well.

More on Protecting Kids on the Web

The number of crimes against teenagers that use the Internet is downright disturbing. Cybercrimes affect more than 556 million people every year, which is a humongous number of people. Teenagers and young children fall victim to crimes such as cyberbullying, identity theft and sexual crimes. Teens and their parents can take certain steps to lessen the chances of becoming victims. The following are four tips that can help protect children who use the net:

Educate the Children About Cybercrimes

The first step in preventing a child from becoming an Internet crime victim is educating him or her about the crimes. Many children fall victim to predators because they do not know what to expect when they go online. Parents should speak with teens and young children about the different ways that someone can take advantage of them if they are not careful. The most common types of Internet crimes are ones that involve breach of trust and manipulation. Not everyone on the Internet is a friend. People need to explain that to their children.

Use Parent Controls

A parent can add parent controls to just about every Internet browser by way of an extension download. They are very easy to use, and parents can activate them before they allow their children to surf online. A computer user can find parent controls on their Microsoft powered units, as well. Microsoft offers a “family safety” feature that filters the games, websites and applications that are inappropriate for young children. Microsoft’s comprehensive family safety feature allows parents to obtain reports of their children’s activities, as well.

Monitor the Children Personally

Parents can monitor their children to ensure that they are engaging in wholesome behavior. Not all children will appreciate being watched by their parents, but the extra step can spare them a world of trouble. Parents should never assume that their children cannot fall victim to manipulation or trickery. Predators are always on the prowl looking for any hole of vulnerability that they can enter.

Be Careful About Sharing Personal Information

Finally, parents should inform children to limit the personal information that they share with people on the Internet. Crimes such as identity theft occur because children trust people with sensitive information like addresses, birth dates, social security numbers and even passwords.

The Internet can still be a place that young people can receive a benefit. Parents just have to stay alert and never sleep on the evils that exist in the world.

Tips for Increasing Children’s Internet Security

 

The Internet is an amazing element because it provides users with the ability to communicate with any person in the world at any time. Internet users can speak to their distant family members and friends from the comfort of home if they wish. Unfortunately, some people take advantage of the Internet and use it to take advantage of children.

Children are frequent victims of Internet crimes such as stalking, bullying, sexual harassment, identity theft and more. A recent statistic revealed that more than 69 percent of young users receive communication from strangers that do not mean them well. Parents can combat those statistics by implementing safe browsing practices. The following are some safe browsing tips for protecting children who use the Internet:

Turn on the Parent Controls

The first thing that concerned parents will want to do to protect their children is turn on parent controls. All of the major web browsers have privacy settings that parents can manipulate to keep their little ones out of trouble. Using the parent controls consists of a three-step process. First, the person will click on “control panel.” Next, the person will click on “options” and then choose the “content” that is appropriate for the child.

Install Virus Protection

Children may be subject to picking up Internet viruses even if they do not come across online predators. The best way to protect the children and the computer is to install a virus protection program. Some of the top anti-virus programs come with a free trial period of up to 30 days. A few of the leading providers are McAfee, Norton and AVG.

Check the Browsing History

Next, parents will want to check to see where their children go throughout the course of the day. The browsing history will provide a paper trail that parents can review so that they can protect their children. The parent can review the day’s history or the past month of activity. From there, he or she will be able to see if the children are visiting age-inappropriate sites.

Stay Involved

Predators can approach children who are online in a matter of seconds. A parent should always stay alert by checking on the children in intervals. Some children may complain about their “privacy,” but safety is the most important factor.

Keeping kids safe requires the parents to stay on their toes and monitor the child’s experience for any peculiar activities. Concerned parents can start protecting their children today with the previously mentioned tips.