Stay Safer in 2017
If you're someone who doesn't make New Year's resolutions because you can't keep them, we can help. We have some that are not only "keep-able," but that also help you protect yourself (and your identity) in the new year—and beyond.
We've narrowed down our list to five. Each may take you a few minutes, but they're easy to do—not like losing those 10 pounds we all gained over the holidays. Make time to tackle these and you may even sleep better, knowing you're safer than you were. And better sleep may help you at least look like you lost 10 pounds!
- Use a password manager. Password manager applications (such as LastPass, KeyPass, 1Password, Dashlane, and others) help you easily create and store strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts. The password manager takes care of all the worst things about passwords—it'll generate long complex passwords for you, store them, and remember which one to use whenever you log in to an account. The only password you have to remember is the one—ONE!—for the password manager.
- Use fake answers for your online security questions. Attackers can find out a lot about you online, often the same information you use for your security questions—mother's maiden name; favorite pet's name; birthplace, etc. You can use your password manager (see above) to fill them with random values. Or you can make the answer totally unrelated to what's being asked. Just be sure you can remember what the answers are.
- Activate two-factor authentication. It's smart to use two-factor authentication wherever it's available (Amazon, Gmail, your bank's website). Whenever you log in to your account, a security code will be sent to your mobile phone. You then type the code into the website to confirm it's really you, and not someone who stole your password. As a bonus, if you get a security code texted to you and you weren't logging in, you'll know someone is trying to hack your account—and you can take action.
- Check to see if you've been "pwned." Visit https://haveibeenpwned.com/ to see if your email accounts have been found in data stolen by hackers. It's a free service, and you can even sign up for free alerts if they ever find your email address in future data breaches, giving you a head start on changing your password and paying attention to your financial records.
- Don't use the same security questions on multiple accounts. This is related to #2 above. Even if you have a great unique password for each of your accounts, if all of the security answers—even fake ones—are the same, then an attacker can often just access your account by answering those same questions with information they obtained from breaching one of your other accounts.
Oh, and here's a bonus resolution: If you have kids, go to The Smart Talk and build online ground rules with your family. You'll find useful tips and guidelines for digital safety, privacy, social media, texting, and more. And because you and your kids create those guidelines together, you can have a meaningful discussion on each topic and make decisions that work for all of you.
See? Not so difficult. And taken together, these resolutions could help make the new year one of your best ever—or, at the very least, one that's less likely to be marred by identity theft.
Posted by Joe Gervais, LifeLock cybersecurity expert
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