COMPUTER AND INTERNET SAFETY TIPS
1. Use cryptic passwords that can't be easily guessed, and protect your passwords:
- Don't share your passwords and avoid writing them down.
- Characteristics of good, cryptic passwords:
Contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols
At least 8 characters in length (or longer if they're less complex)
Difficult to guess (e.g. don't include real words or personal information like user name, names of family members, places, pets, birthdays, addresses, hobbies, etc.)
Easy to remember (so you don't have to write them down)
2. Beware of scams:
- Don't respond to email, instant messages (IM), texts, phone calls, etc., asking you for your password. You should never disclose your password to anyone.
- Emails saying that You have won money or that you need to send money to receive more money are nothing but a scam. These are common schemes that thieves in other countries carry out to steal your money.
- Malicious links can infect your computer or take you to web pages designed to steal your information. Only click on links from trusted sources. Never click on a mystery link unless you have a way to independently verify that it is safe. This includes tiny URLs.
- Malicious attachments can infect your computer. Don't open unsolicited or unexpected attachments. If you can't verify an attachment is legitimate, delete it.
- Don't give private information to anyone you don't know or who doesn't have a legitimate need for it -- in person, over the phone, via e-mail, IM, text, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
3. Protect information when using the Internet and email:
- Don't log in to web sites or online applications unless the login page is secure. Don't enter personal or sensitive information online unless you are using a trusted, secure web page.
- Look for https (not http) in the URL to indicate that there is a secure connection.
- Be especially careful about what you do over wireless. Information and passwords sent via standard, unencrypted wireless are especially easy for hackers to intercept (most public access wireless is unencrypted).
4. Secure laptop computers and mobile devices at all times: Lock them up or carry them with you at all times.
- In your office or at home, at coffee shops, meetings, conferences, etc. - Remember: Phones and laptops get stolen from cars, houses, and offices all the time.
- Make sure it is locked to or in something permanent. Laptop lockdown cables are available at most computer or office supply stores.
5. Shut down, lock, log off, or put your computer and other devices to sleep before leaving them unattended, and make sure they require a secure password to start up or wake-up.
6. Make sure your computer is protected with anti-virus and all necessary security "patches" and updates, and that you know what you need to do, if anything, to keep them current.
- Shut down or restart your computer at least weekly -- and whenever your programs tell you to in order to install updates. Shutting down or restarting your computer regularly helps to make sure software and security updates are properly installed.
7. Protect Portable and Mobile Devices.
- Don't keep sensitive information or your only copy of critical data, projects, files, etc. on portable or mobile devices (such as laptop computers, data phones, memory sticks, CDs/DVDs/floppy disks, PDAs, etc.) unless they are properly protected. These items are extra vulnerable to theft or loss.
8. Don't install or download unknown or unsolicited programs to your computer.
- These can harbor behind-the-scenes computer viruses or open a "back door" giving others access to your computer without your knowledge.
9. Make backup copies of files or data you are not willing to lose -- and store the copies very securely.