- A Few Tips for Internet Security
- Polishing Up Your Web Presence in 2015
Greetings of the season!
I hope you’re having a great time with your loved ones.
During this holiday season, while most people are enjoying time off of work, perhaps travel, and in many cases shopping, a few people are extra busy — including criminals bent on credit-card and identity theft.
Be Safe Online
This is a good time to review a few tips to improve the security of our critical data.
- Use secure passwords for your online accounts. Avoid passwords that consist of a combination of words and numbers that could be guessed. Your middle name, former street address, and mother’s birthday are not hard to find; a hacker who gets into your e-mail account (Yahoo and some other “freemail” accounts are particularly insecure), for example, might find those pieces of information within your past correspondence, then be able to get into your bank account by trying various combinations of those numbers and words (using software that can try thousands of guesses per second). One way to create a secure but memorable password is to think of a phrase that’s not very common (my friend Joe lives in Idaho), then combine the initials of those words along with a couple of numbers and symbols (m#1fJliI). Not guessable, yet you can remember it.
- Don’t use the same password for different accounts, or passwords that differ by a guessable pattern (like dogFB for Facebook, dogTW for Twitter). This should apply even to “unimportant” accounts, such as a Yahoo mail account you use only for list subscriptions. You aren’t the only one at risk: People who break into those accounts can use them to launch cyber-attacks on others, as happened recently to the host of several Web sites I manage.
- If you keep a list of passwords in a master document, make sure that document is strongly encrypted with a secure password (not guessable, contains numbers and symbols/spaces as well as letters, and is longer than 10 characters). You need remember only that one password; all your other passwords will be within that document. File-encryption programs are available for Mac ($6) and Windows or Mac ($30). It is also possible to put your data in an Excel or Word file and protect that document with a strong password, which also encrypts it; however, there are programs that claim they can break that security, which I will be testing soon.
- Encrypt the file even if it’s only on your computer, though you should have an offsite backup securely stored somewhere: Last weekend my partner’s office suite was broken into by thieves who smashed through a wall to get in(!), and a computer was stolen. You don’t want thieves accessing your list of passwords, nor leaving you without your passwords. Keep that document always encrypted; after you open it, if it doesn’t automatically encrypt on closing, make sure to encrypt it manually, delete the unencrypted version, and empty the trash. (Ideally, empty the trash securely: See instructions for Mac and Windows.)
One of the services I offer clients is to review and tighten up their online security. Let me know if this is of interest to you.
Looking Ahead To 2015
I look forward to helping clients (including you?) create greater success in 2015 by improving their online presence.
For new clients (people who have not previously hired me for work), my rate will be increasing a little more than 7% in 2015. Existing clients will continue to benefit from my 2014 rate for at least the first half of the year.
If you haven’t worked with me yet but are considering doing so, you can lock in the 2014 rate even though we’ll be working together in the near year. Here’s how:
- Let me know by December 31 that you’d like to work with me, and what work you’d like done.
- I will get you an estimate as soon as I can (certainly by Jan. 20 if we can sketch out the project[s] by Jan. 7).
- If you accept the proposal by Jan. 31, I will perform that work at the old rate.
So, if you have some down time before the start of the year, a good way to use it will be to review your online needs — giving you a jump-start on building your success in 2015 (as well as enabling you to lock in my services at the old rate).
Have a great remainder of 2014, and I wish you all the best for the new year!