Tag Archives: identity theft

Simple steps to protect your online privacy and identity

Online Privacy


The NSA is not the only organization out there snooping on you. There are many hackers trying to gain access to your online accounts and harvest your personal information. There is no security measure out there that will protect you 100 percent short of hermitage. Nevertheless, there are a few really simple things you can do and precautions you can take to protect your online privacy and deter all but the most determined bad guys.

Always Password Protect Your Devices

The most basic security measure you can undertake is to password protect all your devices. By not protecting your device with a password is the equivalent of leaving your home or car unlocked. Perhaps you will be lucky and no one will take advantage and enter your home or car. Alternatively, someone might enter your home and steal your most valuable items and secrets.


Update your antivirus and malware software

Always keep you antivirus and malware software up to date and remember to run a full scan of your computer from time to time.


Change your password from time to time

From time to time it is recommended that you change your password from time to time. When you do create a password make sure it not a simple password like 123345. Never create and use the same password for all your online accounts. Make use of 1Password to store all your passwords and confidential information which allows you with 1 click to access your online accounts. All you will need to remember is your master password to open 1Password.


Create a Google Alert on your name

Creating a Google alert on your name is a simple way to know what is being said about you online and only takes about a minute or two to set up. Go here: http://www.google.com/alerts and enter your name, and variations of your name, with quotation marks around it.


Remember to sign out of all online accounts when you are done

By signing out of your online accounts will reduce the chances someone tracking while you surf the internet. It will also prevent someone from gaining access of your online account when you step away from your computer. This is especially important if you are using a public computer.


Never give out your email address, phone number, or zip code when requested

Make a judgement call when asked for your email, phone, or zip code. For example, if you at a bar and a sketchy guy comes over and asks for your phone, are you going to willingly hand it over. The same goes when you out shopping at established retail outlets and the cashier asks for your zip code. More often that not, most people freely hand over this information. Retail stores take this information and build a profile about you and what you have purchased.


Encrypt your computer

If you encrypt your computer or device would that an individual would need to have a password or encryption key in order tog win access to your content on your computer or device. On a Mac, you just go to your settings, choose “Security and Privacy,” go to “FileVault,” choose the “Turn on FileVault” option. PC folk need to use Bitlocker.


Turn On 2-step Authentication In Gmail

Make use of 2 step verification to turn your phone into a security fob. If you Gmail it is very simple to turn on 2 step verification. What this means is that if you want to login into your account from a new device, you will need a verification code that is sent to your mobile phone. Without this verification code your account cannot be accessed. This is like having a second layer of protection. Even if someone does get hold of your password, they will still need the security code to access your account from a strange computer.


Use cash when purchasing those embarrassing items

If you don’t want your purchases tracked, simply use cash. If you want people to know how much junk food you are eating, simply choose to pay in cash and avoid that credit card. This is especially true when it comes to those x-rated items or the lingerie you purchase. This will avoid you wife or girlfriend checking your monthly statement and asking why she did not receive the present that month.


Change your Facebook setting to “Friends only”

Change all your Facebook privacy setting to friends only and make sure that the default privacy setting is not set to public. If you use “custom” settings, then make sure you know and are comfortable with any “Networks” you’re sharing with. You can change your “Friends” setting so that people do not have access to the list of your friends.


Clear Your Browser History And Cookies On A Regular Basis

Have you ever cleared your browser history and cookies? Consider changing your browser setting so that when you close your browser all history and cookies will be automatically cleared and deleted. Not all browsers have these automatic options. Firefox enables you to set your privacy settings such that when you close your browser all cookies and browsing history are deleted. You can also set your privacy setting so that you browser never remembers your history. ON some browser you need to do this manually before you close the program.


Hide your online footprint and use An IP Masker

To hide your online footprint, you can download Tor or use an easy browser-based option like HideMyAss.com.

Source: Forbes.com


20 worst passwords and how to secure your online identity

Password Security 1


There is clear evidence that people choose simple passwords for comfort rather than security.  Two events have shown that most people do not make the necessary effort to protect their data online.

Back in October, Adobe announced that their servers and system had been infiltrated and more than 38 million user accounts an passwords had been stolen. Analysis of the data stolen from Adobe revealed that the most common password user by account holders was “123456”. Approximately 1.9 million account holders used this password.

Another event that recently happened was the discovery of a trove of 2 million social media passwords, including Facebook, Google+, and twitter accounts, by security experts Spiderlab. They discovered the trove residing on a criminal cyber network. Upon analysis of the data, it was evident that the vast majority of passwords were “more terrible passwords than excellent ones, more bad passwords than good, and the majority, as usual, is somewhere in between in the Medium category.” Spiderlab is working with the social media network who are notifying all users that their account details have been compromised.

From analysis of the trove it is clear that individual do not put too much effort when selecting passwords. Most people will choose a password that are easy to remember rather than secure.

Below is a list of the 20 most popular passwords in the hands of the Adobe hack (Spiderlab’s top 10 is similar). Any person who has chosen these passwords is essentially inviting hackers for a free lunch and asking them to steal their data.

  • 123456
  • 123456789
  • password
  • admin
  • 12345678
  • qwerty
  • 1234567
  • 111111
  • photoshop
  • 123123
  • 1234567890
  • 000000
  • abc123
  • 1234
  • adobe1
  • macromedia
  • azerty
  • iloveyou
  • aaaaaa
  • 654321

If you have chosen any of the passwords listed above, it is highly recommended that you change your immediately. Here are a few tips on how to create and choose a strong password.


What not to do when choosing a password

Do not choose a password based upon personal data like your name, your username, or other information that one could easily discover about you from such sources as searching the internet.
Do not choose a password that is a word, proper name, name of a TV show, keyboard sequence, or anything else that one would expect a clever person to put in a “dictionary” of passwords.
Do not choose a password that is a simple transformation of a word, such as putting a punctuation mark at the beginning or end of a word, converting the letter “l” to the digit “1”, writing a word backwards, etc. For example, “password,123” is not a good password, since adding “,123” is a common, simple transformation of a word.
Do not choose passwords less than 8 characters long or that are made up solely of numbers or letters. Use letters of different cases, mixtures of digits and letters, and/or non-alphanumeric characters.


Password Security 2


The best method for choosing passwords

The single best method for generating passwords is to do the following:

Make up a sentence you can easily remember. Some examples:

– I have four nephews: John, Edward, Linda, and Carol
– I would like to eat John and Darma’s banana cake.
– No, the model of my first car was a Toyota!

Now take the first letter of every word in the sentence, and include the punctuation. You can throw in extra punctuation, or turn numbers into digits for variety. The above sentences would become:

– Ih4n:JeLc
– Iwl2eJaDbc.
– N,tmomfcwaT!

This method of choosing a password is fairly secure and at the same time easy to remember.


Why it is important to have strong passwords

It is common practice for hackers to attempt to break-in to systems and guess people’s passwords. Sometimes they do succeed, and when they do, more often than not, it is because individuals are using weak or poor passwords. Once your account user details have been compromised can result in significant downtime, lost work, and loss of privacy (for example, if you store your credit card details or banking details on your computer). It could also lead to identity theft which, in turn, could lead to bad credit report and take years to resolve and restore your credit ratings. Hackers often try to install keyboard sniffers which permit them to harvest additional information and passwords and place more machines at risk. Hackers also conduct dictionary attacks against a host’s password database and try out tens of thousands of potential passwords per second.


Good security advice and tips

  • Never believe that you have won a lottery because your email address was chosen.
  • Be suspicious of any e-mail that comes from someone you don’t know personally.
  • Never click on a link in a suspicious e-mail.
  • Never give social security numbers, account numbers, passwords, or driver’s license numbers over the internet or in an e-mail.
  • Safeguard use of credit cards on the internet for purchases. Only buy from businesses you know. When submitting credit card information make sure that the Web site is secure.
  • Make sure your browser is up to date and apply security patches as they become available.
  • Sign up for the Do Not Call list.
  • Check your credit report at least once a year.
  • Pay close attention to your bank statements and financial affairs.
  • Avoid using public terminals (such as Internet cafes) for Internet banking or sensitive business work.
  • Be aware of the higher risk of interception during a wireless connection. Only make use of wireless hotspots if you are certain of the integrity of the connection.
  • Install and update anti-virus and spyware programme and perform regular system scans.
  • Never access the site via a link. Rather type the address into the browser address bar or save the address as a ‘Favorite’.
  • While you are logged into your online bank account, do not open any other websites. Only have a single browser window open and remember to logout.
  • When you complete your online banking tasks for example, log off, clear browser cache, and close the browser window.
  • Choose a User ID and password that cannot be easily guessed and change these on a regular basis.
  • Always update your computer software.
  • Check for the padlock in the lower right of your browser window (it indicates a secure site). You can click on this padlock to verify the site ‘owners’.
  • Never provide your password over the Internet (by email) or over the telephone to anyone.


Source: Adobe.com, FNB.co.za