How can I protect my information on the internet?
As an information technology company in Houston, there are few things we stress more than internet security. Most people tend to go out of their way to protect their physical belongings––they will make sure the door is locked before leaving for work, they will remember to keep valuables out of sight in a parked car, and they will keep their social security card in a safe, hidden place. But with the internet, people tend to be less careful about what they share and how they protect their data. In this day and age, it’s becoming ever important to be careful online. Whether you want to protect your personal information, your customer’s information, or your company’s information, there are several precautions you can take to keep your sensitive data safe.
Create a complex password
You might think this is common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people choose simple passwords that they’ll remember easily. The simpler the password, the easier it is to guess. Avoid using passwords that could be figured out from a quick glance at your Facebook profile, i.e. birthdays, pet names, maiden names, etc. More often than not, people that choose simple passwords will use the same one for all of their online accounts. If a hacker were able to figure out your password and get into one of your accounts, they would then be able to get into all of your accounts. Email, bank account, Facebook…you name it. Your best bet is to choose a complicated password with multiple types of characters (numbers, capital and lowercase letters, etc.) and to use several passwords rather than one. If you have a difficult time memorizing them, write them down and keep them in a safe place, like a locked security box. It should go without saying that your password should be kept in a secure place, not haphazardly written on a sticky note and stuck to your desktop.
Change passwords often
If you must give out your password to anyone, change it after they no longer need access to your account. The same principle applies for employee passwords. If an employee quits or is fired, change all passwords of accounts he or she had access to, just to be safe. It’s also a good rule of thumb to change your passwords every 3 months or so, in case someone were to gain access to your account without you knowing.
Use credit cards and SSNs only on secure websites
Look for the padlock at the top of your browser next to the website address. If it’s there, it means the site is secure and it’s safe to put in your credit card information. If it’s not there, don’t even think about it. Hackers can commit identity theft by finding your card number online. They can rack up charges, put you in debt, and ruin your credit score. The same goes for your social security number. Be careful to only trust secure sites with this immensely sensitive information. It’s also a good idea to only enter your information on reputable sites.
Avoid using public WiFi
Yes, it’s convenient. Yes, it helps you avoid using all your data for the month. But connecting to public WiFi can spell trouble if you have your sensitive information stored in your browser. Passwords, credit card information, and social security numbers can easily be hacked if you’re using a wireless connection that is open to the public. Stick to secure connections for a better chance of protecting your data.
These are just a few of the ways you can stay safe online. Be smart about where you post your information and make sure to be careful with your passwords. Identity theft is not an easy situation to deal with, and a security breach is the last thing you want to happen as a business owner. Protect yourself, your clients, and your business by following the tips mentioned above.