Security checkup – important info for everyone

We’ve talked about some of the basic security items in the past, but here’s a refresher (just in case):

Andrew Clarke

· Make sure you use a secure password. There are several techniques, but the basic idea is to make sure it’s not easy to guess. You should also use a different password for each account (yeah, right). At the very minimum, use a special password for important items like banking sites or medical information. What you use for your book club login is probably not as important.

· Make sure your computer is password protected AND that the screen is set to automatically lock after a period of inactivity. Even if you are the only one who lives in your house and you’re the only one who uses your computer, this step is important. What if someone breaks in and steals your computer? What if you have a get together, and some of your guests don’t respect the fact that it’s not their computer? You wouldn’t leave your door unlocked – don’t leave your computer unlocked either.


· Encrypt your backups. Whether you’re backing up to an external hard drive or the cloud, you want the backup encrypted. Remember that, in addition to storing important work information on your computer, you’re also storing all your sensitive private data there as well. Backups contain ALL your data in an easy to carry container.


Now, a few new items:


· Don’t broadcast your whereabouts. When you take a picture with your smart phone, it stores information about the location where the picture was taken. Uploading that picture allows people to see where you are at any given time. One picture by itself may not be a big deal, but if you upload a lot of pictures to facebook, for example, over time someone with bad intentions can use those pictures to create a profile of your daily habits. Most people think about giving away information about being away on vacation, but what’s more useful for a bad guy is to know that every Wednesday at 4:00 pm you’re at the gym for an hour. Turn off location services for your camera to prevent this information from being stored.

· Password protect your Wi-Fi connection. If you don’t have a password on your Wi-Fi you’re not just allowing people to passively use your connection. Access to your Wi-Fi means they can also access data on your computer if it’s not properly secured. Most routers make setting up a Wi-Fi password easy, and you’ll only have to enter the information once for each new device you bring into the house. If you don’t know if you’ve locked your Wi-Fi down, try connecting to it from a new device. If you can do so without entering a password, that’s bad.


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