I spend a significant amount of time working online, which makes it important to protect my online security. Therefore, it is really important that I protect my personal identity information. If you do anything at all online, then you should also protect your online security.
I work on my website. I buy many things online. Many of the steps in my Combination Techniques can only be completed online. I save money with online purchasing in a variety of ways. Perks include getting cash back that I stash in a savings account. I earn rewards points to convert to free gift cards. I earn rewards $ that are automatically deducted from annual memberships.
Even when a store is right across the street from where I live, I still purchase the items online. I just have the items shipped to that store to avoid shipping fees. Although some of the money or rewards may be small, they are only one of several steps I use. Every step I include increases the amount of money that I save or rewards that I earn.
With so much money to be saved when purchasing things online, security and credit awareness are absolutely critical. Advancement of technology can be a good thing. However, the bad guys also use advanced technology to their benefit. I find it a challenge to keep up with the latest and greatest technology options. That is why I continually provide educational articles to help people remain safe while they are in cyberspace. Credit awareness and online privacy go hand in hand. If you do not believe me, search for your name using your favorite search engine. You might be amazed at what shows up! The fact that anything at all will show up should amaze you. What happened to personal privacy?
Stay on Top of Your Online Security
Knowing the above, I wanted to follow up to the article I wrote 2 years ago: Setup Tasks to Protect Your Identity. I wish that schools would build credit awareness and privacy information security techniques into their curriculum. The millennial generation pretty much lives online. Many are so focused on texts they get that they simply walk across streets, totally oblivious to oncoming traffic. If training started while kids are in school, it would become second nature to them. It is a pretty good guess that technology will continue to advance, which will create even more potential pitfalls. Until this type of training is taught to kids in school, other training methods are important.
The Simple Dollar has created a series of excellent educational guides for students and parents. The guides provide knowledge and tools to teach positive credit awareness and responsible financial habits. Please check out: Guide to Security Your Child’s Credit Future and Guide to Security Your College Student’s Credit Future.
In addition to learning about protecting your privacy and credit awareness, it is important to conduct regular electronic housekeeping. Simple steps you can take such as regularly clearing your browser history will go a long way. If you normally use Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari, Opera, find out how to clear your browsing history. Then set up a recurring task reminder so you remember to clear the history.
Think Backwards with Passwords
I have had my identity information stolen on at least two occasions through no fault of my own. One was the huge government hack, which was the largest in history of government computers. As a result of that attack, government employees were provided with a plethora of tips to protect their personal identification security. One thing we were all advised to do was to change our passwords and the longer the password the better. Try to make your passwords more than 15 characters in length. I always found it difficult to create long passwords with numbers and characters until I found a Consumer Reports article. That article made it super easy to make complicated passwords, and also to remember them! I knew to stay away from using pet names, family member names, birth years, etc.
Before I read that article, the best advice I had was to use a phrase maze. Use the 1st letter of each word in the phrase. A mental trick we learned when I was in school to remember the planets came to mind. Many Very Eager Martians Jump Straight Up Near Pluto. In that case, the password would be MVEMJSUNP and just insert numbers and characters in the password. By the way, that phrase is incorrect today because Pluto was demoted from a planet!
Another article suggested that you use a ‘rhythm’ of alternating letters, numbers, and special characters in the phrase maze letters. I still found it hard to remember the passwords. Then I found the Consumer Reports article that described how to make complicated passwords that are easy to remember. After reading that article, I searched ways to find related words to website topics to make it easier to remember. That goes against every password tip, until you include the tricks from the article.
Before you change any passwords, run a scan using your antivirus software. It is important to be sure your computer is not infected with malware or spyware. You may not be able to prevent your personal information from floating around cyberspace. You can easily make it next to impossible to hack your passwords.
It is much easier to use a word that relates to the subject of websites that you use. For example, if you use astronomy-based websites, use the word ASTRONOMY. If you use food-related websites, use the word CHOCOLATE (or some other food). If you are searching for an upcoming vacation, for all the websites related to that vacation, use the word VACATIONS. Now the fun begins. A word of caution before I start this. Do NOT use any of these examples as your password!!!
- Start the word with any special character such as !@#$%^&*()=+. Period is also a special character. Characters are more difficult for sophisticated software programs that hackers use. Many people start with a letter.
- Replace a letter with a number or insert a number after the special character. For example, you can replace the letter A with @. You can replace the letter @ with $ or &. You can replace the letter I with 1 or !. And so on.
- Start or end with a number.
- The word ASTRONOMY would be something like: !@$tR0nomy% or !246@$tR0nomy%123
- The word VACATIONS would look something like: #17v@(@ti0n$.4 (password was changed in April of 2017: 4 = April, 17 = 2017)
- The word CHOCOLATE would look something like: 4%(#0(Ol@tE$17 (same as above, password was changed in April of 2017)
Simply using a special character in the word would be easy to crack (PASSWORD would look like PA$$WORD). Therefore, add numbers and/or characters before and after the word, before and after the word (make the characters different).
Need help finding words that you can use? I use the “Best Word List”. This website is amazing! This is how I find words that relate to the topics for which I need to create passwords. You can tell it how many letters you want the words to be. You can even select which letters you want to words to include. Or what letters to start and/or end with. You can even tell the system what position you want the letters to be in the word!
ALWAYS use multi-factor authentication! That is just another layer of protection that you can use. Personally, I prefer to receive a text message rather than an email sent to a different email address. I like to err on the side of caution, having my personal information stolen before. If anyone can access my email accounts, they will be able to provide the code that is sent to verify that you are you. I prefer to use my cell phone. I have that cell phone on me at all times. The code will be sent to that phone.
Where Should You Stash Your Passwords?
I prefer to avoid password managers because my personal identify info was stolen at least twice. Rather, I prefer to stash all my passwords using an old-fashioned technique: on paper. Experts say not to keep passwords on paper. Have you heard about major corporations, stores, and even financial institutions being hacked? And, they all had more advanced technology than I do. That is why I do not want to trust my passwords to be stored in cyberspace. As long as the paper with passwords is kept in a locked, fireproof, waterproof safe, I have complete control over those passwords. I also keep an electronic copy on my computer; however, you can bet that document is passworded!
Please let me know if you have any other tips that can help everyone to provide more security for their online personal identity.