Unfortunately, you can never be too careful – you HAVE to protect your personal information as best as possible. Hackers, spammers, phishers, et al are out there to ruin your life just so they can have some money/fun.
Rule 1: DO NOT ENTER FINANCIAL INFO AT A PUBLIC COMPUTER.
Rule 2: Do Not repeat passwords across all of your sites. I know this is easy for you – but it’s easy for the ilk out there to steal from you.
Rule 3: Be careful at those wonderful Wi-Fi hotspots, I’d have to say do not run personal transactions from them. You don’t know who can be watching. Not a problem you think? Remember when camera phones first came out and there were people taking pictures of credit cards? You can be a trusting soul – but don’t let people steal from you when you can prevent it in the first place.
This next one has been one of my BIGGEST peeves. Scammers use email to (in some cases) convincingly get their victims to send them money. You may have noticed these scammers have crawled their way on to the social network pages – turning your friends against you. According to Joe Ferrara, president and CEO of Wombat Security Technologies in Pittsburgh, “To ensure safe social networking, never connect with anyone you haven’t met, verify the identity of new friends and look out for scam messages, even from trusted friends, which could indicate an imposter.” ALWAYS ask yourself: does the offer make sense, do you have to spend money to get the “great deal”, does the verbiage sound like your friend, how’s the typing? Although, the typing thing could be problematic – as the “Smart Phones” spell checkers have some very strange overrides. But you get my meaning.
Now here’s something I didn’t know. Keeping your software up-to-date isn’t just to get all the new bells and whistles – it can be another way to protect you online! When it was explained, I thought “Duh!” When your software isn’t current it leaves holes – and that’s just one of the things cybercriminals look for. Keep in mind you’re updating ALL the security fixes for all of your software – not just the anti-virus programs. When you update: Microsoft automatically sends updates and they happen. For other programs, it’s recommended going to the software company website to ensure safety.
Here’s a “goodie” – if you’re going to plop money down on something, and/or release any personal information – double check that URL! Looking at the link should truly happen before you even click on it (you got it in an email and not from a trusted source). Always look out for typos/irregularities to make absolutely certain you’re going to a legitimate website. Now about that plopping money down/personal information thing, ALWAYS look for the letter s on the end of that http. That s let’s you know it’s a secured site.
OK, now for those mobile apps. Sure your smart phone is great for all sorts of things, but be careful what you’re using the apps for. Sure, you want to be able to manage your banking from your phone (looks great on the commercials…), but be smart about it – only use the apps from your financial institution. The 3rd party apps may not have the same privacy protections. Now, having said that, there are experts out there who still advise AGAINST mobile banking apps – until there’s better security for all of the apps. WHY? Some of the apps continue to run – even when you exit, running the risk of keystrokes and touch screen selections to be intercepted. So, until there’s better security, be the opposite of the Nike slogan – Just DON’T do it.
Last but not least, for those of us who use shortened URLs – posting on Twitter and character limitations, we need to be careful with those as well. Only open those from trusted sources. However, experts say even then to “proceed with caution, you do not know what the actual Web address is until you click.” Scammers will also use shortened links to lead victims to a malware site. The experts suggest going the extra steps to expand the link to see the full address, but they do admit it isn’t easy. Many of the services providing shortened URLs guard against spammers, but it’s still a good idea to use a tool to safely open the shortened link. TinyURL.com is one place suggested.