What is Information Security? The term “information security” is used to define any practice or measure taken to protect information from unauthorized access and malicious intent (e.g., destruction, modification, exploitation).
- Create a password that you will remember, but that others will not be able to figure out easily.
- When creating passwords, use a combination of letters and numbers, upper and lower cases, and at least one special character (e.g., #, $, !, %).
- Do not use the same password for multiple websites.
- Make your password at least eight characters long.
- Do not use any personal information when creating your password (eg., last name, birthday, employer name).
Securing Your Computer During Daily Tasks
If you’ve ever left your Facebook open on somebody else’s computer and logged back into your page to find that “you” posted an embarrassing status that invariably ends with some version of “Next time I’ll make sure to log out of my account on [friend’s name]’s computer!,” you know how important it is to keep your computer secure. Oftentimes, the risks of being lax about security are much higher than ending up with an embarrassing status on your Facebook page. That being said, how can you keep your computer secure during the course of a regular day? You’re going to use your computer to complete a lot of different tasks, and by doing so, you’ll need to secure it in a variety of capacities. Luckily, we have some tips and tricks that will keep your computer safe no matter where life takes you.
Securing Your Computer While Using Search Engines
Nowadays, search engines are a vital part of our online experience. How many times have you heard someone say “I’ll just Google it” when they don’t know the answer to a question? The name “Google” is so ubiquitous that it is now both a noun and a verb! Search engines take the untold quantity of information available on the Internet and condense it into shorter, easier-to-browse segments based on what you want to see.
While search engines are treasure troves of information that certainly make all of our lives easier, they are also a breeding ground for criminals and malware infection. Some malware is specifically designed to hide within search results. So how can you spot a suspicious link/website and avoid the malware lurking within it? Additionally, by nature of how they operate, search engines can put your computer’s safety at risk. Here are some ways to minimize that risk, and things to watch out for when navigating the wild world of the Internet.
- Search engines keep a record of your search queries. (This is how they do things like autocomplete your searches using terms that you’ve searched for before.) Because of this, don’t include personal information such as addresses, full names, or card numbers in your search queries.
- Regularly clear your search history in order to wipe your browser’s memory of any sensitive information that might be on your computer.
- Try to block the installation of cookies on your browser. Typically, before a cookie is installed, a dialog box will pop up asking you to agree to the installation. Always refuse permission for this download.
- Be suspicious of sudden pop-ups and unsolicited page redirects. If these strike you while you are browsing, close out of them immediately.
- Trust your gut – if you find a website and think it looks or feels suspicious, it probably is. Be leery of misspellings, low-quality page images, or excessive demands for personal information. All of these could be red flags.
Securing Your Computer While Using Social Media
Social media can be fun. It’s an excellent way to stay in contact with faraway friends and family, and it allows you the opportunity to share your thoughts, accomplishments, questions, and other content with the world. Despite how fun it can be, social media can also be dangerous if used irresponsibly. However, as social media has exploded in popularity, many con artists and criminals have seen it as an opportunity for further criminal activity.
Common sense your first line defense in maintaining a safe, secure social media presence. Here are some of the main dos and don’ts of social media use.
- Secure your profile using all available privacy settings.
- Limit the amount of people who can view your profile. Ideally, your profile will only be able to be viewed by those you have personally added into your network.
- Be selective in who you add to your network.
- Be careful about the photos you post. Make sure that your photos do not contain any sensitive information (such as addresses) in the background.
- Disconnect access and delete accounts for apps you no longer use.
- Accept friend/follow requests from people you don’t know, even if you have mutual friends.
- Announce vacations, business trips, or other prolonged absences from your home on social media.
- Give out personal information, such as your address and phone number, on your profile. (An exception for this can be made for LinkedIn, but make sure to keep your LinkedIn profile private so that only direct contacts can see this information.)
- Give out your login credentials to anyone.
- Use the same password for all of your accounts.
NOTE: With these things in mind, you should be able to have a good, risk-free experience on social media. Have fun, and make sure to add BYU-Idaho IT on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter while you’re at it!