So if everything is running together and people are tuning out the risks they face, what can be done about it? I am not sure reacting to every breach is the ideal approach. I believe we can take a few simple steps to reduce our risks and control our exposure. The main issue with all of these breaches is the theft of personal information. So let’s just remove that from the equation and be in control of our own information. Here is a brief list of what you can do to protect yourself online that most people don’t think about. This is of course form the known risks and protections people should take.
- Use a Password Generator – I like and use Last Pass, www.lastpass.com. It is a little plugin for all browsers and devices that creates and maintains all of my passwords. I have no idea what most of my passwords are because I simply login to last pass and it fills in the username and password for me when I want to login. I can view them if I want to but I don’t really need too much. The best part is, no one can see the passwords except me.
- Don’t Be Honest – If I have one reputation in the world it is honesty, I do have others though. But when it comes to internet security I choose to lie most of the time. Take those password reset questions. Why do we always want to be honest and give the real name of your high school or your Dad? Almost any question websites ask the answers could be found by anyone doing a Google search about you. My suggestion is to use made-up answers. You can always use the same answer on different sites so you don’t forget but the key is to never be honest. The website won’t know if your high school wasn’t really called Peanut Butter Crunch or that you weren’t born in Antarctica. But by taking this simple step you can always reset your passwords, but most importantly the bad guys can’t because the information is bogus and only you know it.
- Keep it Personal – You never need to tell personal details about yourself online. You can be social but not specific. For example don’t say “I am going to dinner with John at 131 Main at 8:00.” Two issues there, first I know you will be out of the house and I know where. Say something like “John and I are going to dinner tonight.” Also, avoid using sites that want to broadcast your location like Foursquare. There are sites that tell who in your area is not home or out of town so you can break in. The truth is I don’t really care that you are checked in at the Dunkin Donuts for the fourth time this morning.