Friday, April 24, 2015

Security should be concern #1 on the internet

I was recently reading hackernews when I came across a link to something called EveryoneAPI.  Supposedly a service that converts phone numbers into business intelligence.  So, out of curiosity I tried to visit the link, only to be presented with a blank page.  Odd.

So I went back to the hacker news page for it and visited the comments section.  On there were a bunch of people complaining about the same thing.  I almost laughed out loud when someone (apparently, supposedly someone that has something to do with EveryoneAPI) said that it had to be ad blocking software that people were using as an extension to their web browser and that they should "simply disable it" so that we could access their site.

One of the most important things to remember about online security is that if something was installed (by you or others) to keep you safe, the last thing you want to do is to disable it.  As we all know, there are some really nasty things out on the internet (virus', trojans, and even worse, ransomware).  The last thing you want is take advice such as this, which puts you in a position of being vulnerable to such things.  It is better to just take your mouse and close the window.

Your security on the internet is paramount.  This not only applies to you, but your computer as well.  Here are some guidelines that you really should follow:

1.  Make sure that you have a router between your computers and the internet.  The last thing you want to do is put your computer directly onto the internet for others to be able to get directly to.
2.  Make sure that you have the appropriate security setup on the router when installing it:
  • Change the default administrator password
  • Make sure that if is a wireless router, and you are using the wireless portion, that you turn on encryption at the strongest level (WPA2).
  • When setting up the encryption, be sure to choose a very strong, unguessable password.  If you are like me and use products such as LastPas for credentials storage, the application has a built-in password generator.  Make sure to include all character sets, require every character type and set the password length to a high number (I try not to use anything less than 15 myself)
3.  Never, ever put any trust in a pop-up security alert.  Do not click them, just close the page and leave.
4.  Don't click on links in emails from people you do not know.  They are more than likely phishing.  Most financial institutions and credible businesses will not email you and ask you to provide them with your personal information.   Report any such emails as spam in your email system and move on.
5.  DO NOT open any email attachments sent to you from people you do not know.   This is also a very bad thing and could lead to your computer being infected or worse, taken over.
6.  Browsers such as Firefox and Chrome have extensions to prevent Phishing, called phishing blockers.  Pick one, install it and let it do its job.
7.   STOP or DO NOT use Internet Explorer (IE).  That browser is absolutely awful and you should stop using it immediately.  People who write virus' and other such malware love IE because of the ease with which it propagates their malicious code.  Firefox or Chrome are so much better and they are free.
8.  Use strong passwords anywhere you need to create an account (see note in #2 about creating strong passwords).
9.  Strong passwords don't make it easy to remember, so use something like LastPass (which is FREE) to remember the sites, logins and passowrds that you have.
10.  I know that some people will tell you to enable auto-updates on whatever type of system you are on, but I will just say to make sure you keep your software updated.  I do not use auto-updating myself as I am not always in a position to allow major updates to "just happen".
11.  If you are running on Windows, please be sure and use anti-virus software.  There are free options out there, just find one and use it.   As for Linux and OSx, I leave it up to you.

Ok, now that I have gone over some of the most prevalent security rules for you and your computer on the internet, go forth and surf safely and securely. 

No comments:

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.