It is Cyber Security Awareness Month! Each October, the nonprofit National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Federal Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) meet to raise awareness of the importance of cybersecurity in the United States. This year, each week in October has a designated theme. The overall theme is “Do your part. #BeCyberSmart ”. The theme emphasizes the importance of maintaining strict online privacy practices, such as using a password manager to store your unique and complex passwords. You should also use a VPN when browsing online.
Earlier this year, I spoke with Troy Hunt, the man behind a site named Have i been condemned. It publishes evidence of data breaches on its website every day. In an excerpt from that interview, Hunt gave some advice to anyone who finds their email address or other personal information posted due to a data breach.
Question: So what kinds of activities should I watch out for if my data shows up in a breach?
A: The first thing you want to do is make sure that if there is a password involved, that password is not used anywhere else that you would look for people who potentially log into your other accounts. So, instead of monitoring this, we would much prefer people to use good password habits in the first place. Now, getting into the more sinister side of things, I’d be more worried about things like identity theft as a person [may have] enough information to take out a loan in my name or attempt to obtain a tax refund in my name.
Did you find your information in a data breach? What were your next steps to improve your online security? Let us know in the comments.
How to disappear online
As a cruelly labeled “geriatric millennial,” I am part of a generation that grew up without the Internet in our daily lives, but embraced it as soon as it was available. As a child, I spent as much time playing outdoors as I did as a teenager on Internet bulletin boards and GeoCities sites. During my time online, I quickly learned that while the internet was touted as a haven of anonymity, the advertisements that seemed to follow me wherever I went told a different story.
Large companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have made a lot of money over the years from our browsing habits. Unfortunately, we have also disclosed a lot of personal data voluntarily, as well as against our will, through breaches and hacks. It’s frustrating. Should we all give up and let the powers that be follow every one of our interactions online?
Of course not! As Eric Griffith, editor-in-chief of PCMag writes, there are easy ways for everyone to minimize their online footprint and make themselves harder to follow. For example, using a burner phone or an app that creates anonymous phone numbers to make calls and send text messages can improve your privacy. Another way to make yourself harder to track and hack is by maintaining a firewall on your home network. In addition to these methods, you should also enable privacy browser extensions, surf anonymously, activate a VPN, send encrypted emails, avoid clicking on spam links, and lock down (or even wipe out) your networks. social.
All of these tips are fairly easy to follow, but they add an extra step or two to your online routine. The big companies that mine your data are hoping that you won’t have the time or inclination to accomplish these tasks to remain anonymous online. Show them that your privacy is worth it. Take the time today to lock in your online life.
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