Follow these steps to stay ahead of the curve
If you run a website - or even have an email address - odds are you are wondering about internet security these days.
After recent high-profile hacks of the Democratic National Committee, the federal Office of Personnel Management, Yahoo, and Sony, you’re probably thinking: “If it can happen to them, how secure am I?”
Online security is by nature a cat-and-mouse game where those securing websites, servers and data try to stay ahead of malicious hackers - and vice-versa.
While there are no guarantees, there are measures every site owner can take to improve their chances at security.
The following tips will tighten up your security and provide some peace of mind in an evolving cyber landscape.
1) Stay up to date
Web hosting services like Wordpress are constantly monitoring their servers for holes in their security armor. They do this on behalf of the multitude of website managers who use their service. So when Wordpress and/or your host company alerts you about installing an update, do it.
These security “patches” are sent for a reason. A vulnerability has been detected. Do your part by installing the update.
2) Be password savvy
Password management is both art and science. Think smarter than defaulting to personal information that an acquaintance could reasonably take a stab at. Even if you sprinkle in random numbers or letters, any password that has a piece of personal information at its root is an easy target.
The ideal password is a long (about 16 character) combination of numbers, symbols and letters (both uppercase and lowercase). There should be no legible words or discernable repetition. Another option is passphrases. These are longer strings of words separated by spaces. They can be easier to remember and more difficult to hack.
Also, passwords should be different for each of your software logins and changed periodically.
But wait ... How are you supposed to remember multiple long chains of random characters?
You could just write them on a sticky note and put it in the top drawer of your desk. But that presents its own set of problems (theft, fire, flood …).
Consider professional password manager services like LastPass, Dashlane, and 1Password. These services will generate strong random passwords for you, and automatically log you in to your accounts as you browse the web. They also store your passwords for you to access when you need to.
3) Do the Two Step
Some sites, like Gmail, offer two-step authentication to make it harder for someone to hack into your account. It’s easy to use once you get used to it. Two-step authentication asks you to enter a secret code that is sent via text or through an authenticator app on your phone when you are signing in. This way, even if someone knows your password, they will be unable to login to your account.
Two-step authentication would have prevented the hack that exposed the Democratic National Committee’s pre-election emails.
4) Don’t be phished
When news broke last year that the Democratic National Committee’s emails were exposed because someone fell for a standard phishing scam, many a palm slapped many a forehead. Even assuming you are not the chairman of a major political party, odds are you’ve still been phished.
Phishing emails attempt to trick you into voluntarily offering up your login information. These emails are designed to look legitimate, often using recognizable logos like that of Facebook or Google. They are successful when someone is rushed and cruising through emails on autopilot.
Take the time to authenticate the source of any email before clicking on an attachment. Many phishing scams hide malicious software inside attachments. Also, never follow emailed instructions to type in any personal information or passwords.
A little common sense and a discerning eye will go a long way to keeping you out of trouble from incoming phishing emails.
If you do end up with malware on your computer, there is a chance the software is copying your login and password information and will be able to log into any of your accounts, even if you have strong passwords/passphrases.
Make these security measures an integral part of your online life to stay a step ahead of those hackers with bad intent.
Breezy Hill Marketing is a Vermont web design company serving clients in Vermont and throughout the United States. We specialize in marketing strategy and social media marketing. We build beautiful, optimized and mobile responsive websites.