Security, Online And Off

People always talk about online security and privacy. In this age it is easier and easier to just hack someone’s computer and gather all their information in one convenient package. These are some of the ways I make my time on the Internet a little more safe and secure.

Knowledge: Knowledge is number one, I find (no offence to the older generation) that younger people usually are much more aware of what can be done through computers and the Internet. I say usually because I recently saw a picture of a girl who just got a credit card and she posted it on Facebook, she then said “ Gees the numbers on the back of my card are ***. Why is everyone asking me. Then a while later she posted a picture of her new credit card saying “I had to get a new credit card because apparently someone was using my old one.” Part of me, a very small part feels bad for her, the rest of me just says gees I wonder why. Anyways, know how people can get your information and know what not to share. I would like to think everyone knows not to share their credit card information, but obviously that is not the care. Another example is, in Canada a SIN card can be used for identification purposes, however you are never required to provide it, you can easily use any other piece of ID, if someone says you have to show them your SIN card then walk away, something probably isn’t right. The only exception to that is certain jobs require SIN cards.

Security: You should always make sure your computer is secure. If you take your laptop places with you, then you should make sure to have a secure password on it, and skip the part that says provide a hint. If your computer is at home, and someone breaks in and looks at your computer and the hint says “The name of my dog” all the guy has to do it walk over to your dog and look at his collar. Passwords like 1234, and 2468 are so common. Also, the same goes for bank cards, people commonly use the last 4 digits of the number on their bank card as well, or the year they were born. These are usually the first things someone who steals your card will try. The good news is they will most likely be doing it through a bank machine, so three wrong guesses and the card is taken, but I have herd more then one story (yes I used to hang out with not so good people) about people stealing bank cards and them getting it on the first her second try because of what I said above. Make sure your code is secure, and always, ALWAYS, use a pin on your credit card.

Computer Protection: A sub section of security, but very important. Firewalls, and anti virus’s are very important. Usually all you’ll ever get is tracking cookies that slow down your computer, and maybe the odd virus that isn’t going to do a lot of damage, however it is something that is needed. In all my years of owning computers (14 years, I’m 20, got our first computer in our house when I was 6)I have only had one serious threat, it was on one of our home computers, and it was a Trojan Horse. At the time I was able to get rid of it, thankfully because a anti virus caught it. Some virus’s can go into your system and steal bank card numbers and pins, credit card information, identification information, SIN, essentially your whole life and identity. Also if you, like me, don’t have a lot of money and some things just can’t be afforded try programs such as SuperAntiSpywareProfessional which you can download from Cnet.com

Advertisements: I honestly would say stay clear of advertisements period, yes some are legitimate, but others, such as the ones that say optimize your PC, or your media player isn’t working properly are total bullshit. They are advertisements from the Internet, not notifications from you computer. They have no idea what is going on with your computer, and nine times out of ten they are just looking for you to install the program that doesn’t actually do anything just so they can install some tracking cookies, or a virus to get information. If you ever click on anything and it goes to a page (like those “free” weight loss ads and such) that the first thing you see is a form asking you to enter your name, number, address, and credit card information, leave that page, even if you do enter it in, usually they will send you something for “free” but there will still be a charge on your credit card, and they will keep sending you stuff, and keep charging it to your card. Stuff like that is a pain, and expensive.

Read Everything: This falls under knowledge and again, this is something I would like to think that most people would know, but read everything before you sign a contract, even those contracts that pop up on your computer when you install or download something. Sometimes you get sucked into insurance for something and then you realize that the insurance your paying is worth more than the damn thing you bought. A way around that if something like that does happen to you, where you sign for insurance only to find out it’s an obscene amount there is a way around it. Just go to the bank, tell them you lost your credit card and get it replaced, when the company goes to charge the insurance or something you don’t want them to, it won’t go through because that card is canceled. It worked for someone I know. Anyways I would still recommend reading everything because canceling your credit card every time something like that happens is a pain in the ass, and if you have monthly payments going out on it for bills then you have to change all your accounts to take the money off the new card. So save yourself some trouble, always read, always ask questions, and if in doubt never sign anything until you fully understand what you are agreeing to.

Questions, Questions, Questions: Building on the last point, always ask questions. If your in doubt about something, such as what not share about personal information, or how secure your bank or credit card is, always ask a person who is reputable and knowledgeable. When dealing with banks and doing anything other than basic transactions I always recommend to deal with the manager. They know a lot more than the average teller and can give you the most accurate information. For example my mother went to pay off her credit card completely, gave the guy the cash and confirmed with him that there would be NO money owed on it, and he guaranteed that is would be cleared, then printed off a record to show her. A few days later she got a bill saying she owed 75 cents. Turned out the print out cost money, the guy never told her it did, nor did he even ask if she wanted one. We went back to the bank and they voided the payment, but it wasn’t about the 75 cents, it was about travelling back there (we don’t drive) and also about a teller who obviously was doing stuff that he didn’t understand.

Last But Not Least: Your address, phone number, workplace or school, doesn’t belong on the Internet, I only post school or places of work after I have left there and no longer attend them. Also never post your address or phone number. A lot of places like Facebook give you the option to post all of the above information on your profile, if anyone needs this information, such as a friend or family member then send a personal message to their inbox. Even if your profile is set to completely private so only friends can see it, there are still many, many ways to access the information, it’s better not to post it all.

In closing, the best thing you can do for yourself is never share personal information, stay up to date on security features for your computer, bank and credit cards, and identification, know what you have to provide and what you don’t, always deal with the most knowledgeable person when possible, and always use secure, random passwords, and if you must right them down keep then in a secure location such as a safe if you have one or a very hidden place. (Way too many people put money and valuables in their sock drawers, under their mattress, or in cans in their fridge, every criminal knows this. If you have to hide them in your house, be creative, don’t just put it in your desk or on a post it note near your computer.

I really hope this helped, this is by no means everything you should do to keep yourself safe, these are just some of the main points that I think are the bare minimum people should know when it comes to protecting themselves on or offline. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it helps you out.

How do you protect yourself on the Internet and in day to day life? Do you have any interesting ideas to keep your self safe, or do you just assume that your information is out there anyway so what’s the point? I would love to hear your view on privacy and security.

P.S. This post was supposed to be up yesterday however my PS3 got in the way of that. Sorry everyone, blame Kingdom Hearts. The posts for today will still be up. So be expecting three more posts today!

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