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22 days ago

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8 Tips To Stay Safe In An Online World

22 days ago

We live in a hyper connected age unlike any before it. Your online safety and privacy is under threat on a daily basis. Here are 8 tips to serve as a starting points to keep you safe(r):

BROWSER SAFETY

New online threats emerge everyday and the race is on to find ways to compromise your browser with malware, security holes and malicious exploits. Use a modern browser with paid AV software that inspects http traffic. This will add another layer of security to your browser (Windows 10 Defender for example does not scan browser traffic). Consider installing a ad blocker that blocks intrusive ads and unnecessary tracking scripts.

EMAIL SAFETY

For all the convenience that email provides it is also one of the most prolific points of entry for scams and malware. Always assume an email is a scam. Always reject unsolicited advances and messages in your inbox. Be suspicious of all attachments and don't open unless you were expecting it.

ANTI VIRUS

Stick with paid products that perform well in AV comparative tests. Free products nearly always come with a catch. You perform better when you're paid and so will your AV vendor. You can still get away with no AV on MacOS, not because it is necessarily more secure, but rather due to obscurity.

UPDATES

Mac and Windows updates often break legitimate things but the pros outweigh the cons. Software nowadays are exploited and compromised mercilessly. If there is a security hole (and there IS) it will be exploited by someone, somewhere. You can't always stay ahead but you can put up a good fight with patches and up to date software.

PASSWORD POLICIES

So many passwords to remember - just make sure you use different passwords for different services. So often victims are cross-compromised because they re-used a password for different services (think email password matching your PayPal password..). Strong passwords go hand in hand with security. Long passwords with uppercase, lowercase, special characters and non-dictionary words are best.

SMART PHONES & SMART CHOICES

Controversial and very debatable, which smart phone ecosystem is more secure and respects your privacy the most, IOS or Android? We are of the opinion that the walled garden approach of IOS tends to be more security oriented than Android's wild west approach. Whichever you choose, the same safety guidelines apply. Don't install apps thoughtlessly. Check what permissions they require and deny that which they don't. A minimum permission model is what is desired, a dictionary app certainly doesn't need access to your contacts. As a side note - apps can and will hoover up all your contacts and do with it as they please without much policing from either Apple or Google. This is set to change with IOS 12. More reasons to limit the app leash length.

PRIVACY SETTINGS

Your default privacy settings on all your favorite social media apps and websites often don't have your privacy as their number one concern; they tend to more concerned with sharing your data with 3rd parties for extra profit. Check each service individually and make sure you are aware of what you are sharing with the general public.

BACKUPS

When everything fails, as long as you have backups you will be OK. All hard drives and storage media can and will fail. Have a recent backup of your most precious data in more than one place. Backup your phone as well - we treat it like a casual accessory but in most cases it's more expensive than a laptop and carries information just as, or more important. Symmetric IT recommends Macrium Reflect.

Hopefully this gives some food for thought when you interact online and how to stay safe while doing it. Comment if you have ideas to add.


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