As a security guy, the most common question I find myself being asked is, “how do I stay safe online?” Unfortunately, this is a very difficult question to answer as there are so many ways to add security to your online footprint. Therefore, I have written this article in an attempt to tackle what I see as the most effective methods to protect you from falling foul of computer crime.
There are so many browsers available these days that it is almost impossible to choose the ‘best’. Each browser has its own attributes. From a security perspective the most common browsers (Firefox and Chrome) are much the same. Statistically Firefox has the highest number of vulnerabilities in its code, however, these vulnerabilities are usually fixed within 28 days, and Chrome has a similar number of vulnerabilities, which are usually fixed within 14 days. Further comparisons could be made in regards to their performance, efficiency and usability, but the deciding factor will simply come down to personal preference as it would be difficult to find any startling differences.
Regardless of which browser you choose, there are a number of plugins available for improving security such as AdBlock and Disconnect, as-well-as anti-virus solutions such as AVG that often have their own plugins which warn you against visiting unsafe web pages.
In conclusion, the browser you choose is not the most important factor in staying safe online. Pick one, keep it up-to-date and install a couple of plugins to increase your security.
Passwords are the most common security gateway, however, they are also the most easily misused means of protection. Users have been trained over the years to create long, complex passwords which are almost impossible to remember, yet these passwords are often deceptively easy for a computer system to guess. To prove it, we’ll use the following examples;
Password 1 is a strong password. It contains all of the recommended character types, it’s difficult to guess and it’s a good length (13 characters). Password 2 also has all of these properties, the only difference is that you are more likely to remember the famous words of Arnold Schwarzenegger than a random bunch of letters, numbers and symbols. For this reason, you’re also less likely to write it down and use it for every website you create an account for, thus making it a better password.
Password Managers such as LastPass are also an excellent way to keep passwords safe. These applications are installed on your devices and keep your passwords safely stored where only you can access them with two-factor authentication. Using these systems mean you can have very long, complex passwords which are different for each of your accounts, however you won’t need to remember any of them as long as you have memorised the master password used to access your stored credentials.
The tips for improving security in this article are by no means exhaustive, however they are a great start for staying safe online. The Executive Cyber Awareness course provides a much more comprehensive syllabus for protecting your online identity, and I would highly recommend taking this course if you seek further security advice.
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