Tips to Keep You Safe Online

Some tips to keep you and your family safer online.

a)      Use Lastpass.com to keep track of your passwords. With Lastpass I remember only one long, random, secure password and Lastpass remembers over 200 of my passwords which all look like random variations of “C5r$u9cLy#bG”. I also use YubiKey with Lastpass to provide secondary authentication. Yubikey is a small plastic USB device that sends a pseudo-random number to a server to authenticate me. Google Authenticator is an alternative secondary authentication.

b)      Change your password reset questions so that your answers are no longer “Snoopy”, “ice cream,” or “Justin Bieber.” Too easy to guess the name of your first pet or your favorite food. Too easy to find out from your Facebook profile your favorite singer. Use answers like “game73elmo29.” Write them down in a secure place or you can use Lastpass to keep track of tem.

c)       Do not use the same password at multiple sites.

d)      Change the default password on your router. Some of the sophisticated hacks attack widely-available Belkin, D-Link, Linksys, etc., routers. If you are adventurous build your own router like Astaro or PFSense using an old PC.

e)      Check your router’s security using the ShieldsUP! tool at grc.com.

f)       Make sure your wireless router uses WPA2. WEP is too easy to crack.

g)      Check to see that hardware DEP is turned on if you are using a Windows PC.

h)      Use NoScript to prevent malicious scripts from running if you are using Firefox. I think Firefox is the most secure browser but you could also make an argument for Chrome or IE9.

i)        Use SandboxIE to virtualize any browser.

j)        Backup your essential files. Bad things can and will happen. I use the 3-2-1 rule. Three copies, two different media (I use hard drives and cloud drives), and one copy off-site (I use two off-site vendors, Amazon and Rackspace)

k)      Scan your PC occasionally using a LiveCD like Microsoft System Sweeper. The LiveCD does not boot into Windows so difficult to detect malware like rootkits can be detected.

l)        If you want to check to see if the file in an e-mail or you downloaded, check the file at virustotal.com. It will be checked against more than 40 antivirus products. Of course just because the file appears to be virus-free, it may be a zero-day.

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