The 30th of November is Computer Security Day. It started in 1988, around the time when computers started becoming commonplace. Back then, the internet was still in its early stages. But nowadays we are almost constantly online, and computer security has become more indispensable than before. To be in control of your online security, follow these tips this Computer Security Day.
Take Care Of Your Smartphone
Even though this day is called Computer Security Day, remember that your smartphone is a computer as well. And since RescueTime research showed that people spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones, you should be aware of your smartphone vulnerabilities.
A recent Pew Research report states that nearly 30% of smartphone owners don't use a screen lock. People think that it's not a big deal. But smartphones have a lot of sensitive data: logged-in accounts, credit card data, personal photos, and so on. A screen lock is vital if you leave your phone unattended, or it gets stolen.
Take Care Of Your Online Accounts
Your personal data might be reached not only from your devices but simply from your accounts. First, be careful with default privacy settings when creating a new account anywhere online. Default settings can be unnecessarily broad and allow sharing more data than needed.
Another critical measure is to avoid logging into your accounts when using a WiFi network without the password. Open WiFi means that anyone is able to get all the details you are filling in when logging in. It's especially dangerous to be checking your bank account or other sensitive data. In such cases, it's safer to use your mobile data.
Take Care Of Your Belongings
Whatever you do, don't leave your computer unattended in public places. Criminals don't have to steal the actual computer to access your personal data. They can access your passwords and use them at a later date without you even noticing. When you must go, even for a minute, at least log out of your user account, so it wouldn't be easy to access it quickly.
To be sure about your computer safety, avoid unknown USBs. Ben-Gurion University conducted research and exposed 29 types of USB attacks. You don't want to face any of them. But the point is, that if you plug a compromised USB to a computer with an internet connection, you might grant unnoticeable access to your files. The same goes for public phone charging ports. When compromised, they not only charge your phone but transmits your data as well, it's called juice jacking.
Take Care Of Your Passwords
You probably have heard this many times before but use sTr0nG! passwords with upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Passwords that were discovered in various breaches show that 123456 is still the most popular password, with "password" and 123456789 in second and third place. It doesn't take a genius to crack such passwords.
The problem is that not only people are trying to guess your passwords, but computers are doing it too. They use a technique called brute-forcing: computers try every possible combination until your password is identified. The possible password combinations are endless, but computers can try thousands of guesses per second. They start guessing with words from the dictionary because they are easier to remember than random letter combinations. Therefore, to be safer, try to be as random as possible.
Take Care Of Your Websites And Customers
If you own a website, especially if it's business-related, take care of it as well. To be sure that people who are browsing your website are safe, use an SSL certificate. SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer. It makes communication between a website server and a visitor computer safer by encrypting it.
If your website offers products or services to buy, an SSL certificate can even boost your sales. Arnas Stuopelis, Chairman of the Board of hosting provider Hostinger, says: "When your website doesn't have an SSL certificate, Chrome browser shows a "Not secure" line next to the address. And it's a big red flag for online shoppers." In recent research, more than 4000 respondents were asked why they have abandoned their online shopping carts. 17% of them answered that they didn't trust the site with credit card information. Take care of those people.
Take Care Of Your Old Technology
Your old computer probably means a lot to you, and together you have a lot of good memories. The problem is that your computer literally has a lot of your data in its memory. So before throwing it away, be sure to remove all the sensitive data. Simply deleting files is not the answer, because deleted files can sometimes be recovered.
To be assured that your files are gone for good, you have to delete and overwrite them. There is specialized software for this matter, and it's called digital file shredding. If you are not selling your old computer, another way to take care of your files is simply physically damaging your hard drive. Just take it out and hammer it or drill some holes in it. It can work as a kind of therapy as well.
You should be aware of your online security every day of the year. But Computer Security Day gives you an excellent opportunity to take a deeper look into your current, or potential, online vulnerabilities:
• Check your smartphone and pick a screen lock of your choice.
• Review your online accounts and their privacy settings. Revoke some accesses if they are unnecessary for the specific account.
• Be careful with your physical devices. Don't leave them unattended, avoid unknown USBs and public charging ports.
• It's a good day to change your passwords into sTr0nG! ones. If you own a website, protect it with an SSL certificate.
• And if you are planning to throw out some old technology, wipe it clean first.
Ram Kezel is a public relations coordinator at Hostinger.