We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: use long, complex passwords to secure your online accounts. Use different passwords for different sites, and change them regularly. There is no better way to ensure your online security, than to have a strong password. Check out our most recent password security article: http://groups.etown.edu/its/2016/01/29/will-your-password-be-unbroken/
But what about protecting more than just your account? You also need to protect your identity. Think about the last thing you posted on social media. Was your mother’s maiden name posted? A picture of your first pet? A message to your favorite teacher? Even things as simple as your birthday can compromise the safety of your identity. Banks and other sites use security questions to protect your information similar to those above. Posting that information gives identity thieves access to your account just like posting where you keep the spare key to your house. Take care of what you post.
To determine if something is safe for posting, try using the billboard test. Before you post something, stop and think: Would I put this on a billboard for everyone to see? If the answer is no, then maybe you should reconsider posting it.
Don’t forget to update your security settings. While you’re at it, check your friends and followers list and block people you don’t know or you don’t want seeing your posts anymore. Check out our recent article on social media security settings: http://groups.etown.edu/its/2016/03/18/social-media-security/
Avoid posting on social media about travel plans, too. This is an open door for burglars to find out when you are not home, which leaves the rest of your items vulnerable. Posts about travelling won’t just put your home at risk, but your online identity, too. Identity theft is harder for banks or security sites to pinpoint when you are travelling because you are already spending a lot of money and logging into your account in strange locations. This makes it harder for your bank to monitor your accounts for unusual purchases. Make sure you inform your financial institution before you travel, so they can be on the lookout for untrustworthy charges.
Since we’re talking about traveling… You, your identity, and your devices can be more vulnerable when traveling than when you are at home. You may be less cautious with your device, your information, or your posting when travelling. Make sure you have a plan for protecting yourself even when you are offline.
Installing a tracker on your device will help if your device is stolen or misplaced while traveling (or while at home). Apple products come preloaded with Find my iPhone for just this use. Make sure it is configured and ready to go before you go anywhere.
Finally, protect your items! Put unused electronics in a secure bag or in a hotel safe while traveling. Avoid carrying personal documents with you in strange places. Leave passports, social security cards, and even unused credit cards in the hotel safe or secure location while you are out and about. Watch out for pick-pockets and identity thieves.
To recap, use long, complex passwords to secure your online accounts. Use different passwords for different sites, and change them regularly. Use the billboard test before you post something to determine if something is safe for posting. Keep personal information and travel plans off of social media. Guard your privacy online and offline.