Easy ways to protect your privacy and data

In spite of one high profile computer security breach after another, many people are still not employing even the most basic safeguards to protect their privacy and their data. Defence Intelligence has created the following seven computer security resolutions to help people protect their privacy, their data, and their wallets.

Stay up to date

  • Keep everything updated. Your operating system, your web browser, anti-virus, Acrobat, Java, everything.
  • Set programs to automatically update so it’s not as annoying.
  • Before randomly clicking the “update” button, be sure you recognize the program and it looks legitimate. If in doubt about an update pop up, open the program itself and update from there.

Improve your passwords

  • Stop using the same password in multiple places. Unless it’s a throwaway account that you care nothing about, have a unique password for everything you do.
  • Strengthen your passwords by adding numbers, symbols and capital letters. Try using phrases instead of a single word.
  • Do not store your passwords in your browser.

Check your messages

  • If you don’t know who the email is from, don’t open it.
  • Turn off the preview feature in your email program. Some malware can be executed simply by being opened in the preview pane.
  • Don’t click on links in received emails. These can be faked and may lead you to bad places. Copy the address and then paste it in your browser instead.
  • Don’t open any attachments that you aren’t expecting. If it’s from a friend, check with them to verify that they sent it.
  • Don’t forward forwards.

Know your friends

  • Don’t add “friends” that you don’t know.
  • Keep your friend list up to date. If you’re not sure who the “friends” on your contact list are, delete them.
  • Before clicking on any links or files sent to you, verify that your friend intended to send them to you.

Secure your mobile devices

  • Require a password to unlock your phone or tablet and keep it locked when not in use.
  • Don’t store anything on your mobile that you aren’t comfortable losing.
  • Ensure that your device does not connect automatically to open Wi-Fi networks.
  • Install an application capable of locking down and erasing your device in the event it is lost or stolen.

Watch what you click

  • Be wary of third party applications available for your phone, facebook, etc. If you don’t need it, don’t install it.
  • Don’t click on shortened links on Twitter or elsewhere. You have no idea where you might end up. To see where these links lead to, use a service like http://www.longurl.com or http://www.unfurlr.com.

Share with care

  • Whatever you share online will remain online. Once it’s out there, there is no way to remove it.
  • Treat email like a postcard – potentially visible to all.
  • Don’t insert random USB keys into your computer – you don’t know where they’ve been or what they may contain.