Recipe for protecting yourself online

We wanted to end the year with a new beginning…a series of posts about various ways to better secure your online presence.   We’ll first start with a series on general computer security (the how and the why), and then dive into your mobile devices.  This is not intended to be a definitive guide, but rather a baseline to help you get started and have some immediate positive impact.  This first post is your basic ‘recipe’ of security ingredients, courtesy of the ID Theft Center .  Hope that you find it useful!

Overall security/privacy recipe

  • Check Privacy and Security settings for any application that you use. Ensure they are set to meet your preferences.
  • Read the Privacy policy of any app you sign up for first.
  • Be careful how many apps that you download on your devices. Too many can be difficult to manage and leave holes in your privacy/security unnoticed.
  • Choose a strong and different password for each application. Store them in an encrypted vault like KeePass ( or LastPass (
  • If the application offers a second form of authentication, use it! This could be as easy as texting a passcode to your phone or sending you an email.
  • Use the least amount of information necessary to register for and use the site. Be careful when picking a screen name – make sure it doesn’t provide clues to your “identity.”
  • Be wise about what you post.  Never post personal information such as your address, phone numbers, e-mail address, driver’s license number, Social Security Number (SSN), birth date, birth place, school’s name, or student ID number. When blogging, do not disclose your location for any given day or the exact location for an event you are going to attend.
  • Only connect to people you already know and trust.
  • Verify emails and links in emails you supposedly get from your social networking site. These are often designed to gain access to your user name, password, and ultimately your personal information.
  • Install a firewall, reputable anti-spam and anti-virus software to protect your information– and keep it updated.
  • Keep your system up to date on updates. This helps reduce the risk of any technical vulnerabilities that can be exploited on your system or device.
  • Use two-factor authentication for any service that you use that offers it. This will entail having an additional way to identify you above and beyond your password (such as texting a code to your cell phone).