Online Privacy Primer

Your personal information is something you use every day, and most people take it for granted.  But every time you log into your facebook account, or your bank account, every time you log into any website, you are using your personal information (login and password).  Even offline, when you use your credit card, or where you are located( your GPS coordinates are personal information – everyone pretends to be somewhere they are not at some point).  Point being, it is neglectful if you don’t have a minimum of protection.  And the minimum isn’t just having Antivirus installed.  Remember, Privacy and Security go hand-in-hand.

Bare Bones protection:

  • Money/asset holding institutions (banks/credit unions/loan companies/etc.) having unique STRONG* passwords.
  • Antivirus with UPDATED virus definitions
  • Updated Operating System (Windows/OSX) with all security patches.
  • Link Awareness
    • This means knowing that the link that is shown (http://google.com) isn’t always where the link goes.
    • Hover over the link usually shows where the link ACTUALLY goes.  Try it for the above google.com link.
      • Sometimes it shows up immediately by the cursor, other times it is in the bottom bar of the window.
    • Know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS.
      • HTTPS is “S” for Secure.  An encrypted connection from the server to your computer.
    • Know what the green color/bar/lock means in the address bar.
      • Green means the certificate that is required for the “S” connection is current and working.
    • Just clicking on a link to a website can start installing a virus.  Even if you don’t download a .exe yourself, malicious sites might auto-download it in the background.
    • Know how a URL (web address) is composed.  There are 4 parts of a URL. [http://store.website.com/products.html]
      1. The Protocol [http://]
      2. Before the domain name [STORE.website.com]
      3. The domain name [store.WEBSITE.COM/products.html] and
      4. After the domain name [store.website.com/PRODUCTS.HTML]
    • Know how to find the domain name in the URL. *Tip: Look for the first “/” and directly before that should be the domain name.*
      • For: https://www.google.com it is “google.com”.
      • For: https://www.google.com/search?q=results it is still google.com
      • For http://search.google.com.results-of-search.io/google.com/search-results.php?list_10 it is “results-of-search.io”  That doesn’t sound like the legitimate google site you wanted to go to!
  • REMEMBER: No one will ever legitimately ask for your password.  If they do, its not legitimate!
  • Only download programs or add-on that you have actively gone to download.

Highly recommended next steps:

  • Password Manager and complex/unique passwords for every single site.
  • Use of VPN for public connections and sometimes even at home.
  • Web browser add-ons that:
    • Block trackers and ads
    • Stop scripts from automatically running
  • Keeping all programs updated.  Especially web browsers and Microsoft programs.
  • Uninstalling Flash and Java
    • Chrome has Flash built-in and always updated when needed, so if you need flash, just use Chrome.