9 Easy Tips for Online Safety

Staying safe online takes constant vigilance!  Clicking on links in your email, an app, or on a random website can lead to lots of problems.  But THINKING about it all the time is exhausting! Thankfully, there are a few shortcuts to ensure your online safety

Don’t give real answers:Internet Safety / Online Safety

Probably the most important thing to remember is that not everyone is entitled to real answers. Closely guard your personal information.  Who needs to know your birthday and why? Do you need to be at least 21 or 55?  Make up a birth date to fit those criteria! Do they want to know what your zip code is to show you the closest store to you?  Type in 80305 instead of 80302! No one except maybe your bank needs to know your mother’s maiden name. Come to think of it, most apps don’t even need to know your real name or email address.  Which brings us to tip #2…

Create a throw-away email address:

It’s easy enough to set up a new email using Gmail. Use a fake name. Forward the emails to your real address so if there is something important you’ll be sure to receive it.

WiFi:

When you’re using WiFi away from your home, office, or other trusted location, be very careful to ensure that it is a legitimate service. Always ask the coffee shop, or wherever you are, what the name of their WiFi is.  Be sure you are clicking on “Starbucks” and not “S1arbucks”.  (Did you see what I did there?) And, you should always connect to WiFi on your phone or tablet via a Virtual Private Network or VPN.

Online Safety with a VPN:

A Virtual Private Network helps ensure your online safety.  A VPN is encrypting software that masks your identity and location by hiding your IP address. Check out this article explaining what a VPN is and why you need one.

Banking:

If your bank gives you the option, you should check your balance online every day to make sure nothing nefarious is going on. (If they don’t offer online banking, I’d suggest switching banks.  After all, this is the 21st Century!) Another thing you should expect from your bank is a robust Fraud Department.  As a business, we’ve occasionally had to make online purchases from other countries.  The Fraud Department at our bank calls us each time to make sure it’s really us doing the transaction. I appreciate their diligence.

Online purchasing:

If you make a lot of purchases online, you should probably open a new debit card at your current bank just for those transactions. When you make a purchase, go to your bank account online and transfer enough funds into the account for that specific purchase. If your information is compromised, you can easily close that account.

Passwords:

Online Safety
Don’t use these passwords!

I know I’ve said this before. You can’t change your passwords often enough! Online safety starts with a secure password. Change your password on all of your apps and online accounts AT LEAST once a month.  Don’t reuse passwords.  Make sure they can’t be cracked. Use at least 12 characters.  So many rules!  Sign up for our free Guide to creating a secure and easy-to-remember password.

Location tracking:

Remember to check occasionally which apps are tracking your location. Yeah, you might have it locked down, but when you update the app, they may turn location tracking on again. Yes, you want the weather app to know where you are when you want to know how much snow you’re going to get.  Once you have your forecast and close the app though, they shouldn’t still be tracking where you are.

Online safety at Libraries, Hotel Business Suites, and Internet cafés:

Most of us can do just about everything we need to online with our phone or tablet. But there are times when we need to visit a library, internet café, or the “Business Suite” at a hotel. Be especially careful in these locations.  If you need to print an email, use your phone to email the document to your throw-away email account.  Then log in to that account instead of your real email.  If you do need to log into your real email, a financial account, or another secure app, change your password on that account as soon as you’ve completed your business. And use your phone or tablet to change your password, not the computer at the library or business suite.

Conclusion:

Online safety is a habit you can grow.  Be aware of what information you’re sharing and where you are sharing it.  What information can stay private?  You can do this!

Do you have additional suggestions?  Do you need more info or clarification?  Write a comment below!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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10 Password Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

As a Mac and PC repair company, when it comes to password mistakes, we’ve seen it all!  From people using “password” to log into their investment account, to people giving their email password to a hacker who calls them on the phone. (“But he sounded like a such a nice guy!”)

Here are 10 password mistakes you don’t want to make when logging into an account on the internet.

password mistakes

  1. Don’t share your password with anyone.  If someone needs to log into one of your accounts to fix something, make sure you trust them.  And when they’re done, change your password on that account right away!
  2. Don’t save your passwords in the “cloud”.  There have been a lot of hacking attempts, and corporations are not always as careful with your data as they should be.  In fact, we’ve had two customers who have lost access to their password account.  One of them needed to log into ALL of her accounts and change the password on each one! I keep all of my passwords in an Excel spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet is on my computer, which has a pretty secure password, and the file itself is password protected with a 12 character phrase.
  3. Don’t keep a written list of your passwords next to your computer. (…or under your keyboard, or taped to your wall…)
  4. Don’t keep a written list in your planner (aka calendar) or phone book.
  5. Don’t auto-save passwords on your browser.  This is the same logic as saving passwords in the cloud.  Yes, it’s a pain to have to type it in each time, but corporations like Google and even Firefox don’t always follow great processes to keep your information secure.
  6. Don’t use sequential numbers or letters, like “111111” or “12345678” or “qwertyuiop” or “abcdefgh”. Click to receive our Guide on creating a secure AND easy-to-remember Password.password mistakes
  7. Don’t use something easy to guess like “password”.  Every year top security companies look to see which are the most commonly used passwords.  (“Password” has always been in the top 5.)  Wikipedia published this list in 2018. Make sure your password isn’t on this list!
  8. Don’t use a password that’s under six characters.  The longer your password is, the better.  In 2017, it took four hours to crack a simple eight-character password and 200 years to crack a simple 12 character password.  In 2019, with computer speeds ever-improving, those times will be shorter. Take a look at this infographic for more details.password mistakes
  9. Don’t use your name or your birthday, or any personal information.
  10. Don’t use your mother’s maiden name. In the last century, most women were married and took their husband’s name.  In 2019, that’s all changed.  Along with other personal information, figuring out your mom’s last name is pretty easy.  Just take a look at one of your Facebook acquaintances for a few minutes. You’ll be able to figure out their mom’s name as well as other personal information in no time at all.

Which of these password mistakes have you made?  Are there others I should have included?  Let me know in the comments below!

Please share this with your brother-in-law, who is making these password mistakes!

Information about Geek For Hire, Inc.

I’ve created a Free Report on what to look for to protect yourself from “phishing” scams. Click here to receive it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PCs for the past eighteen years. Angie’s List and the BBB rate Geek For Hire very highly.  You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3 support) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free and fast shipping.  With Prime, we have access to online streaming too. Prime is usually $119/year, but you can get a free 30-day trial by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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How To Keep Your Online Presence Safe During the Holiday Season

With the holidays coming up, people are doing lots of online shopping.  It is very important to keep your online presence safe!  Last week I heard the Amazon website may have been hacked and user IDs and passwords may have been compromised.

Now is the time to change your password for all of your online accounts.  Especially accounts where you have credit card or other financial information stored!

When you change your password, make it a STRONG password!

Use each type of character that the website allows. For example, some websites only allow you to use letters, capital letters, and numbers.  Others allow you to use special characters like “@”, or “&”, or “#”.  Always use the special characters unless the website doesn’t allow you to. One of the best ways to make a strong password is use a word that is familiar to you and change some of the letters.  For example, you can change “a” to “A” or “@”.  You can change “o” to “O” or “0”.  An “s” can become “5” or “$”.  You get the idea.  It’s also important to use a long password.  Most websites require eight characters, but you should use at least 16 characters wherever the website allows you to.  Adding a date to your familiar word will add another eight characters to your password

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Use letters and capitals
  2. Use numbers
  3. Use special characters
  4. Replace letters with capitals, numbers, and special characters
  5. Make the password at least 16 characters long, or as long as the website will allow you

So a good strong password could be “1_lIk3-$un5ets_1215” instead of “Ilikesunsets”

When you change your password, make it a UNIQUE password!

Use a different password for each site.  When you use the same password on multiple sites it makes it that much easier for hackers to get into your accounts on other sites as well.  Each site where you have stored credit card information or other financial information should have a different and unique password.  So, yes, you’ll need a different one for Amazon and eBay.  And, you’ll need a different one for Fidelity and  Charles Schwab.

What’s the best way to do this?  Add two or more characters to your strong password to indicate which site it is for.  For example, you could use  “1_lIk3-$un5ets_F1d”, or  “1_lIk3-$un5ets_eby”

Phishing is also a holiday issue!

Phishing is where someone tries to trick you into giving them your sensitive and private information.  Generally, they’ll send you an email.  (They might also call you on your phone.)  They tell you that there is an issue with your Amazon or Charles Schwab account and you need to update your password immediately.  The email looks legitimate and you are tempted to click on the “Log into your account now!” button.  Even if it is a legitimate email, you should always go directly to the official website and log on from there.

 

Do you already use strong passwords?  What tricks do you use?  How do you remember them all?  Share your tips with your fellow readers in the comments below!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

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