Don’t use lazy passwords. Choosing password or 1234
is like putting a luggage lock on the front door of your house. Also,
people will be able to guess it and hack. Instead, come up with a longer
password that contains both letters and numbers/characters, preferably
one that references something significant only to you. For example, if
the name of your beloved childhood goldfish was Sir Bubbles, swap out
some of the letters for numbers and you can end up with a very nice
password like s1rbubb735 that only you understand. Make sure to write all of your passwords down as well.
Never use the same password for different accounts. If you don’t want to
come up with and keep track of dozens of different passwords, come up
with a base password (ex. s1rbubb735) and tack a logical modifier onto it for each account (ex. on Amazon, use amzns1rbubb735; on Gmail, use gmails1rbubb735 or for Twitter twitt1rubb735).
Do not give out your full name, address, or phone number to anyone online that you don’t trust or know in person.
This especially important in chatrooms or when negotiating jobs or
deals through meet-up sites. Beware of stock letters (i.e. very general
response letters that don’t actually address any of the points you’ve
made), anyone who wants to negotiate a wire transfer, or anyone who
wants to work out a business arrangement while they’re “abroad.
Keep your eyes peeled for online scams.
Beware of spoof email claiming to be from eBay, PayPal, or a bank or a
company you trust asking for personal or sensitive information. This is
called phishing. The e-mail may inform you that there is a problem with
your account/password. There may be a link to click inside. Forward any
of these e-mails to the company it claims to be sent from. They will
confirm whether the e-mail you received was real or not. Also, bear in
mind that e-mail programs like Yahoo!, MSN, Hotmail and Gmail will never ask you for your e-mail password. Don’t fall for it.
Make sure you are using (and regularly updating) an anti-virus program, an anti-spyware program, and a firewall.
You can use either the firewall that comes standard with your operating
system or a third-party software program to your liking. Don’t use two
firewalls at once, as they can interfere with / weaken one another.
When using a public wireless network, make sure to turn off file sharing and network discovery. These both put your files and system at risk for being opened by anyone on the wireless network, not just hackers. In Windows, these options can be found under Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center. In Mac OS X, they are under System Preferences > Sharing.
If you are within range of public wireless networks but don’t need to
be online, turn off your wireless capabilities altogether. On some
devices, there is simply an on/off switch; on others, you will need to
configure this yourself (ex. on a Mac, click the Wi-Fi icon and turn off
Always check for secure transaction info. The best
companies will have many security devices in place. You may see a gold
lock at the bottom of the page to indicate a secure site. When giving
any bank details or other information, make sure the connection is
secure (URLs like this begin with https:// instead of http://) and the site is trustworthy. (Not every site which runs HTTPS or accepts payments is trustworthy, even if the connection is.)
Only download files or software from sites that have been rated/verified by trusted sources.
Choose downloading resources that are up-front about price and ratings
and vet their downloads (ex. download.cnet.com). When in doubt, google
the name of the site or download along with the word “scam” to see if
you get any hits. Do not download illegally (copyrighted material
without paying for it).
Never open e-mail attachments from strangers unless you can trust them and have security settings on your computer.
Some junk e-mails may contain viruses or spyware that can harm your
computer. These e-mails may be automatically marked as “spam” or “junk,”
but virus-ridden emails from unwitting friends can also slip through.
If you use an email program like Outlook or Thunderbird, make sure to
disable attachment previews. These take away your ability to decide
whether or not to open an attachment. Look through your email program’s
settings and disable options such as Show Attachment Previews, Display Attachments Inline, etc.
It’s best to have three accounts. One for friends and websites and the
other for job alone and the other for your personal clients, bank
correspondence, job hunting and other secure things. Use a proper name
and a difficult password for the last two. Some companies may want to
keep your job account so make sure you have a backup of your personal
career building work.