First 30 Days Blog

30 may

Your Online Information: Is It Really Private and Safe?

RobertCordrayWith today’s technology it’s easier than ever to surf the web, keep in touch with friends and family, purchase goods online, and do all sorts of things anywhere and at anytime — simply by touching the screen on a smartphone. However, quick access and easy navigation can create a false sense of security that our personal online information is always private and secure.

Truth is, as the tools and techniques of computer hacking become more sophisticated, experiencing a security breech on your computer that puts your private and personal information at risk is probably only a matter of time. Here’s a look at some simple safeguards you can take to help insure that your sensitive information remains as safe and private as possible.

Rethink Social Media Safety

You may think your information is private and safe on social networking sites. You may also assume that when you post pictures, status updates, or details about your family vacation, that this information is only being shared with those you know. But you would be wrong. A case in point is Facebook, which has begun selling access to its users personal information. For a price, companies can sift through Facebook’s base of 900 million members, pulling out email addresses, phone numbers, and other personal bits of information, all to help them create more targeted advertising. Search engines such as Google also pull information from social networking sites, and that information could come up during searches of your name. When using social media it’s critical to understand that whatever you share, including the dates you’ll be away from home on vacation — burglars love this — becomes public domain.

Reconsider Cell Phone Security

With mobile apps for just about everything, our smartphones allow us to shop, bank, navigate, email, and connect on social media while we’re on the go. But the downside is, unlike our computers, smartphones do not come equipped with antiviral software, which can mean easy access for hackers. So we really need to think before conducting online transactions with our smartphones. Another area of security concern is the apps that we download. More and more apps have been found to contain advanced malware, which is difficult to detect without antivirus or malware programs on phones.

We also need to pay attention to the permissions requested by common phone applications, as we are allowing access to our personal information — such as who is calling us, who we call, where we are located, and possibly even what we are doing on the internet. It’s a good idea to look over the requested permissions for every application to make sure you are not granting access to things you want kept private. Finally, most smart phones are equipped with GPS and many users don’t realize that when they post images online those images contain geo-tags, which are embedded by the smartphone. These geo-tags give out your location even down to your address, which can make you vulnerable and could potentially put you in danger.

Reevaluate Email

With recent increases in email hacking, it’s important to reevaluate the content of your emails to make sure you’re not including sensitive information. Generally hackers will gain access to send spam to your contact list. But a hacked email account could be an indication that there may be a key logger program or other program on your computer, which could potentially give out passwords to banking sites and other important pieces of information.

Remember that you should never send credit card information, social security numbers or other sensitive information through your email. Should a hack occur, run a scan of your system immediately and change all of your passwords — making sure that the new passwords incorporate numbers with upper and lower case letters for highest security.

Reenlist Safety Software

Viruses used to primarily be a threat to computer performance. Now our personal information — even our very identities — are being targeted by criminals and hackers. It’s imperative to install an up-to-date anti-malware program on your computer and do regular scans for viruses, malware and spyware to ensure that your sensitive information remains private and protected.

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Posted by Robert Cordray on May 30th, 2013 in General, New Directions, Technology | 0 comments

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