5 Habits to Keep Yourself Safer on the Web

Posted by Team HFM on June 06, 2017

Criminals and manipulative marketers don’t need to be high-tech system hackers to be effective:   Social engineering (exploiting basic understanding of how people tend to behave) is the easy way in to your systems and to get what they want.   Develop a healthy mistrust that causes you to pause and question every item that enters your electronic world before you engage with it.

1. Beware the pull of convenience or urgency  

Never answer “Yes” in response to "Remember this password?"  or "Remember this computer?"  or “Stay logged on?”    Learn how to clear your browser after every time that you access the internet.  Learn from the painful experience of others:   Security inconveniences by far pale in comparison to recovering from an infected device, a scam, ID theft, a compromised business image, etc.

2. STOP and count to 10 BEFORE YOU CLICK 

Use that time to remind yourself that you must resist clicking until you consider how you are going to safely step aside and independently assess whether an app, software, email, a text, a website, etc. is legitimate and what you really want, without clicking on it to find out.    Once you click on something, you are essentially overriding and by-passing any safeguards, and saying “Whether good or bad, come on in!”

3. Practice good User ID and password hygiene

Develop a fast, memorable and repeatable technique for coming up with new strong passwords.    It will help you avoid resorting to poor choices under time pressure.  Do not use full words that can be found in the dictionary by a hacker’s computer algorithm.  Do not use dates/info you can find in public records of any kind, for you or a family member, present or long-time past.   (Do a search on yourself--see how much is available to anyone by just knowing your name – don’t use for security questions either.)  Do not use sequential key patterns on the keyboard.  Never, ever, put your password on a piece of paper anywhere in the proximity of your computer / device (taped underneath your keyboard or in the drawer next to your computer.)  When possible accept setup of a 2nd form of security authentication from vendors or financial institutions, whether it be security questions or a PIN emailed/texted to you.

4. Do not access your financial information/accounts on a computer/device that is not your own

(or at your financial institution), especially while traveling.   No matter where you are, avoid leaving electronic remnants of yourself for others to exploit.   Re-read the prior tip again – don’t make it ridiculously easy for someone to get into your device and into your accounts.

5. Don’t be cheap with yourself when it comes to your personal security

Avoid free wi-fi like the plague and pay for your own secured internet access account with good coverage.  Think of free wi-fi as everyone sharing the same unwashed mug during flu season at your favorite coffee house.  Dealing with ID theft and an infected device can get much more expensive fast.