Security Essentials and Internet Vulnerability

© maxkabakov - Fotolia.com
© maxkabakov – Fotolia.com

Security Essentials

Security essentials on the internet are an important part of contemporary living, especially if you are a solopreneur or an e-business owner. If you are reading this, you are probably online and, whether or not you realize it, experiencing internet vulnerability.

COLIBRI knows, talking about security essentials could be considered, um, don’t be afraid to think it: boring. Well, yawn away until it happens to you!

Internet Vulnerability: A Cautionary Tale

Quick: are you more likely to die in a plane or in a car?* COLIBRI has always figured that anything she says or does online is fair game and therefore she didn’t worry about internet privacy–let alone vulnerability.

COLIBRI, of course, runs an internet business. She is trying to get found (but not by hackers)!

And Then it Happened to Her

It started innocently enough when a friend told her there was no link in her latest tweet. No big deal, thought COLIBRI, everyone makes mistakes.

Then there was the email saying COLIBRI was including “weird” links with her (barely used) Yahoo! account. She raised an eyebrow, but did nothing. . . .

What finally got COLIBRI’s attention was the “disgusting” link sent to every Twitter follower she has.

No doubt about it, COLIBRI had been hacked. She began to feel an internet vulnerability she had never felt before.

COLIBRI Has Friends

A technology consultant friend convinced COLIBRI to take action and walked her through the steps she needed to take to correct her internet vulnerability (LB Johnson, personal communication, September 5, 2012).

COLIBRI Was Lucky

COLIBRI’s problem started slowly and, fortunately, never got serious (“disgusting” tweets aside). This is because she immediately implemented these security essentials:

  • She changed her passwords (yes, on every email account and every password protected site she visits). Was it fun? Not really.
  • She disabled all of the apps she had that connected accounts (login through Facebook, anyone?) and reinstalled them. Was it fun? Not really.

Password Protection

Speaking of passwords, this may come as a surprise: length is more important than complexity for stronger passwords.

According to USAA Magazine, the password “H7%doss!” would take less than four hours to crack using hacking software, whereas the password “MyLazyDogRex” would take 317 years.

Take home: don’t use personal names, but do use longer phrases when allowed by the site you are using.

Internet Vulnerability and You

Here is what you can do to reduce the chances of getting hacked:

  • Use longer passwords
  • Tempting as it is, don’t use the same password for everything
  • Set an alert on your phone or calendar and change your passwords quarterly
  • Update your software regularly (updates often include security enhancements)
  • Pay attention and take action right away if friends or connections notice something unusual
  • Be careful about the information you share on social sites because hackers can use it to guess your passwords
  • Install Norton Security or similar on your computers
  • Favor hard lines to wireless when possible and
  • Back up your data once per week or after important projects (this can prevent hassles if you do get hacked)

Bad News

COLIBRI has very bad news. Even if you follow all of these steps, it is increasingly likely that you will, sooner or later, be hacked. Think of it as part of the cost of doing business in the 21st Century.

And now you: do you have internet vulnerability tales or security essentials to share?

*According to answers. com you are 22 times more likely to die in a car than in a plane (http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_a_plane_safer_than_a_car ). Don’t even get COLIBRI started on the safety issues involved with crossing the street. . . .

Citation

Crews, Jesse. Worried About Cybersecurity? USAA Magazine, pp. 19 – 23. Fall, 2012.

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