How Secure Are We When We Log Onto The Internet?

October 31, 2013

You can live in the safest parts of the country and never once be exposed to burglary or theft. Yet the safety provided by a police patrol or neighborhood watch evaporates once you connect to the modern-day version of the Wild West: the World Wide Web. The Federal Trade Commission reports that as many as five percent of adults experience identity theft, topping the list of complaints each year since the statistics were first tracked. How can you make sure that you stay safe when you log in and out of a web browser?



Hacking, From Start To Finish

The main way that hackers can break into your email, your social media, your PayPal account, and all other aspects of your personal life stems from the sole security feature: the password. While the password should be a strong bulwark against online intrusion, too few people realize how easy it is for a hacker to crack a simple password. If your password consists of a simple word -- such as "password" -- it may fall into the wrong hands in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. Ars Technica launched a study into password protection and reported that any password under six characters can be hacked in a single day. Beyond six characters, however, the difficulty of hacking increases exponentially. Longer passwords with letters, numbers, and characters minimize this facility.

Networks And Opportunities

How worried are you about the security of an Internet connection itself, compared to the security of your activity on said Internet connection? The information you enter while connected to a WiFi network may be up for grabs, even if you encrypt data and use strong passwords. Hackers can check the strength of a wireless connection by simply browsing open connections on their mobile phone. Consulting firm Security Evaluators concludes that nearly all wireless routers have zero security on their broadcast signals, allowing anyone to tap in and see the pages that every user has pulled up. Encrypt your wireless signal by configuring your router (the manual includes instructions on how to do so) to transmit using Wi-Fi Protected Access, or WPA2.

Mobile Platforms

Since the Internet no longer is constrained to a desktop computer, users have to be careful about their laptop, tablet PC, e-reader, and mobile phone whenever they plug in. Symantec released their annual Internet security report in 2013 and found that one in three mobile-targeted attacks succeed in stealing information. Strange texts, such as gibberish words and characters are a sure-fire sign of an attempt to upload a virus onto a smart phone. Delete texts and emails from unknown sources immediately, without opening them. Check through call logs to make sure that no unauthorized calls or texts have gone out from a phone.

Identity Theft Solutions

Shredding documents, changing passwords, and never responding to fraudulent emails can all go a long way towards identity theft protection. Get professional help with ID theft by utilizing the services of LifeLock or other similar companies in order to proactively prevent hacks, cracks, and phishing. 24/7 monitoring of hardware and sensitive data is essential so that you can be sure you are protected around the clock, remotely or plugged in.

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