7 tips to strengthen online security

Users will be enlightened by these ideas to close out the bad guys.

online security

Seeing the light

A lightbulb. We can connect a lightbulb in our house to the internet in case we need to turn the lights on or off while we’re away – or if we’re too lazy to walk to the light switch. The more lightbulbs, devices, apps and online services we use and connect with on a daily basis, the more we expose ourselves to security risks. This is the nature of how our digital lives have evolved and it requires more active participation as individuals to protect ourselves and minimize exposure.

If you are online today, checking email, buying someone a gift, posting to Facebook, paying bills, streaming Netflix, or monitoring your sleeping baby, you need to practice these seven tips for protecting your online presence suggested by Rob Sobers, director at Varonis Systems.

online security

Pee-yew, your password stinks

No one takes just one shower a month so why use one password for all your online services? Start practicing better password hygiene that includes strong, random (not guessable) and unique passwords for every website. The use of password managers, like LastPass or 1Password, will help you maintain strong unique passwords without having to memorize them.


03 green lock

Look for the green padlock

Between your device and the information on the internet you are trying to access, there are any number of points where your web traffic may be viewed. Look in your web browser’s address bar for HTTPS and the green padlock. This means that all your web traffic is encrypted on your device as it passes over WiFi, via the ISP, through the internet (and various countries) and then finally unencrypted on the server of the resource you are accessing.


online security

The grammar police say no phishing

It’s not polite to correct someone’s grammar in person, but when you see major grammatical blunders in an email from your bank, don’t click on a link or open any attachments. Poor grammar, off-looking branding, and a sense of urgency are hallmarks of a phishing email. When you see these or just get a phishy vibe, delete the email. If you are concerned about the bank shutting down your account per the email, just pick up the phone and call.


05 phone lock

‘Cause if you like it, put a lock on it

Mobile devices contain our entire world – where we’ve been, who we’ve called, images of loved ones – and they’re often the location for password-reset SMS messages. At the very least, lock them with a PIN. If you want more security and ease-of-use, use biometric authentication (a fingerprint) to quickly unlock and access your device.


online security


When downloading your next mobile app, watch out for excessive app permissions. Does your QR reader really need to access your calendar and contacts? If not, don’t install it. And always use official app stores like Google Play or Apple App Store to ensure the app has met rigorous software quality controls.


07 maintenance

Maintenance required!

Software maintenance is not glamorous, but without it, you may be exposing yourself to major security vulnerabilities the manufacturer has now patched. With mobile devices, and many PCs, you can set and forget automatic updates to your mobile applications. With your connected things, read the user manual to ensure you know how to check for updates.


online security

If you connect it, they will come

The Internet of Things connects everyday items to the internet, paving the way for some serious security vulnerabilities. We’ve all heard of baby cameras being hacked —an incident that commonly occurs when users forget to reset the passwords of their IoT devices set by manufacturers. Users should be aware of this vulnerability and proactively set secure passwords and make sure their connections are private from day one to prevent their IoT devices from leaking WiFi credentials to outside parties.

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Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.