Keeping Your Information Secure Online

My last post was about how requirements for passwords are (in my opinion) kinda dumb. So it only makes sense for this post to discuss how I think you can help keep your information safe. However, I’m not just going to talk about password security as the internet is a large space with lots of possible ways to try and trick you into giving information you know you shouldn’t be giving.

Email Messages

Emails are a commonly used technique to trick people into giving someone information or money. These tricks are usually simple like Refund Scams which will say that you purchased something that you didn’t trying to get you to call and request a refund. A lot of these scams are caught by the spam filters that email providers like Google and Microsoft use for their services, however, I have seen a few sketchy emails making it into my inbox recently.

The emails I’ve seen more recently are ones saying that my password or billing information has expired and I have a simple way to not get tricked by these. It’s not to simply ignore it either. Unfortunately, these scams take advantage of the fact that email is a legitimate means that a company would use to notify you of these types of things. For example, today I saw an email from my remote software provider saying I needed to update my credit card information. This is totally possible as one of my cards expired since the last time I would’ve paid for this yearly subscription. Though the email provided a link, I did not use it. Instead, I opened my web browser and went to the website myself the good ol’ fashioned way.

You might be wondering how this would prevent a scam. Something that has been seen countless of times is scammers copying a legitimate website. This allows them to send you the link to the fake website that they manage and now they have access to do a lot of malicious things including stealing your password that you type into the log in or even taking partial or complete control of your computer. If for whatever reason you can not open your browser and you must click the link, hover your mouse cursor over it first. You will likely see something pop up in your email client that tells you where the link is pointing, make sure the website URL looks correct before clicking. I’d also suggest looking at the URL once you are in your browser after clicking the link, if something seems off, close your browser immediately.

Last but not least, if you see any emails that seem malicious, report them. Though this won’t do anything for you right then and there, it will help email providers detect scams. In the long run, this will help you keep your email list cleaner and will potentially protect someone else from falling for the same scam you were smart enough to avoid.

Online Ads

This one can be slightly controversial. Not in the fact that ads can be scams, that’s absolutely a thing that people do. But instead, it’s my advice on how to avoid these issues. Obviously the easiest way is to never click any ad without being certain it’s going to bring you where you want it to go. The other option is to install an ad blocker.

Now I say this is controversial because I run a company where one of the services is online advertising and now I’m saying people should block ads. With most ad blockers, you don’t have to block 100% of the ads that you come across. A lot of them allow you to whitelist websites that you feel have safer ads or in some cases that benefit people. For example, I have Google whitelisted on my AdBlock as sometimes the ads that are shown are valuable sources of information for me. I also have certain channels that I watch on YouTube who are whitelisted from my AdBlock. This allows these channels to continue to display ads to me and earn the revenue that they should be earning.

Most importantly, don’t trust a websites ads just because of the what the website is for. I don’t want to say too much about this topic but I will mention that religious sites are 3 times more likely to give you a virus than certain adult video sites.

Passwords

Last but not least, what would this post be without talking about passwords. In my last post, I talked about how I would always recommend using 1Password. This is a great tool that allows you to generate a password of x characters long using a variety of characters. This helps by allowing you an easy way of having different passwords for all your accounts (highly recommended) and it will also let you know of any of the websites you have an account with were subject to a data breach.

Not everyone wants to use a password manager though. What would I recommend for people that don’t want to use a password manager. I’d absolutely still highly suggest you do not use the same password across multiple accounts. I’d also say you should try to make your email account passwords super secure as if someone gets into your email, they now have access to change a bunch of your accounts passwords. If you are worried you won’t be able to remember what you’ve set all of your passwords as, don’t write them down in a notebook or something like that. Instead write yourself a password hint as to not completely give it away. This will prevent someone from having all your account information just by stealing the notebook. I would also not use any of the common password categories like pets names, friend/family name or even relevant dates in your passwords. Think about all the things you’d put on Facebook and avoid using that in your password. If you put it online, people can find it.

Well, that’s about it for this post. Stay safe out there, the internet can be a lot of fun but it can also be very dangerous. Thank you very much for watching this post and I hope you have a great Valentine’s day! See you again tomorrow!

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