Protect Yourself: Online Security & Privacy

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Geeky ‘n Girly was recently contacted by Lisa Margetis from SingleHop, a company specializing in cloud computing. She asked us to join a blog initiative to educate people on the importance of online safety, passwords and privacy. Well, of course we said yes and decided that each of us would write a piece detailing tips for staying safe and secure while using the web.

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In the world of social media, people seem to be all too trusting about things they post online. Status updates of where we are, pictures to go along with it and trusting friends with passwords has seemed to become an “okay thing”. With everyone having so much access to unlimited information on the Internet, it’s important that we remember to stay safe, with out revealing too much info about ourselves. For example, let’s say you’re making a password to your online banking and you use your birthday as your password because it’s easy to remember, and your online PIN as your birthyear. Example: April26! (Password) PIN: 1988

Anyone who knows you and your birthday can probably figure that out! It’s important to make complicated passwords and also equally as important to not give them away. If you must let someone have a password to something important, make sure that it is a person that you REALLY trust, and that they have the password for the possibility of a emergency event happening. I use passwords that are completely random and have nothing to do with me personally. For example: 1218BmF1984! is a complex password that it completely random. Per https://howsecureismypassword.net/ , it would take 344 THOUSAND YEARS for a desktop PC to crack! Try this website to test your passwords. It’s easy to use and will open your eyes about how safe your password is. Remember, when making passwords, don’t use things that are familiar with you! Be random, remember how complex your password is and don’t give it away!

Many privacy focused users and companies who make sure their passwords are rock solid were still exposed to hacking because the Heartbleed vulnerability existed on one of the servers where their passwords were stored. I.E.: SingleHop servers were tested and found that because of the Open SSL version they were running, they thankfully weren’t affected. After Heartbleed they really tightened down their security to ensure that something like that wouldn’t be a problem for them in the future. That’s why they believe their secure dedicated servers are a great avenue for people looking to execute cloud based strategies. Data security is a two way street, users need to keep passwords secure, but companies that store those passwords have a responsibility to do the same!

Whitney

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Children are always taught the importance of stranger danger and the precautions they should take. Never take candy or items from a person you do not know and certainly never accept a ride from one. When I was younger that basically all you needed to worry about. As I’ve gotten older and technology has advanced, face to face contact is not the only means of meeting a stranger.

I am not a mother myself, however, after seeing my nieces and nephews on social media sites it opened my eyes to just how easy it is for a stranger to collect their information. IE: a simple status update, “Going to cheer practice.” Followed with “Going to the park.” These things seem harmless and simple, but if your profile is public anyone can see where you are and can pick up on a pattern. They’ll know where you you’ll be and when you’ll be there.

Another way is through hashtags. I don’t mean things like #selfie or #mancrushmonday. I’m talking about things that should obviously not be put like the tag #homealone has over one million photographs on Instagram. There are millions of Instagram users that can now look under that tag and see that you are home by yourself.

This is not just for children, but for adults as well. Things like status updates and hashtags don’t appear as though it could be potentially dangerous but it is better to not take that risk. Before posting think to yourself, “Is this information I should be sharing with the rest of the world?” Remember that you can never be too safe when it comes to social media.

Kelly

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In general, we tend to be very trusting when it comes to loved ones. We tell them how our days went, how we feel about one another, and even our deepest darkest secrets. However, there are some things we shouldn’t share with loved ones especially when it comes to online security. Some of our most precious information is stored online, including credit card information, bank accounts, and ID numbers.

It should be said that we all must consider who it is that we can or should trust our passwords with. It might seem insulting to others involved, but it is simply for our security. Trust your amazon password with your best friend so she can buy that pretty lipstick online and then you might find yourself dealing with a new host of problems beyond your friendship. She may take it upon herself to buy that tank top she’s been wanting and then a cute pair of shoes to match!

That coworker just wishes he could have Netflix to watch that show you keep talking about. So you think that giving him your password and username to log on to watch is a nice thing to do. Why not? Then you will have someone to talk to about each new episode that comes on! — Again, why not? Well, your subscription for Netflix has to be paid somehow. I’m sure that it can viewed when you log on to your account. And guess what? That coworker of yours now has the ability to log on and see your billing information. Physical address, credit card number, e-mail address, ect.

You might find that these people who you thought trustworthy really aren’t that trustworthy at all.

So we should always take a step back to really look at our own online safety and then at what may happen should we trust someone with our passwords. Chances are that the people who we can trust with our online security are the same people who won’t ask us to begin with and/or won’t get upset if we decided not to share.

Britney

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Also,

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Geek meets Geek. But.. how?

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Online

This is definitely the most common way. It’s the safest easiest way for us geeks to connect with others geeks. Literally. Most of us are techies by nature and are often online quite a bit. This applies not only to the internet in general, but also online gaming.

Pros

– Meets geeks from all over the world

– No judgement over appearances

Cons

– Interaction is limited to online

My Suggestions

Keep up with the good work? 🙂 This is the best way to meet other geeks, in my opinion, so no advice needed.

 

Conventions

I only recently went to my first geeky convention. (I know. Shame on me.) That was QuakeCon. I couldn’t have felt more at home surrounded by people that I know wouldn’t judge me, but actually be interested in me. It’s too much fun enjoying everything that a convention has to offer with people just like yourself. You gt to share your excitement with them and vice versa.

Pros

– Meets geeks of the same type as yourself. (I.E.: Otaku, Gamer, Comic Reader)

– Meet local & traveling geeks

Cons

– Conventions are often crowded, busy, and loud

My Suggestions

Get involved in the activities that interest you at the conventions. More often than not, they’re pretty fun and you get to meet other geeks during.

 

Stores

Specialty stores are a really good way to run into geeks with the same interests. Table top game stores, video game stores, card stores, anime stores, ect. You won’t always run into friendly folks at the stores, but occasionally you’ll run into some rarities that don’t mind talking.

Pros

– Meet local geeks

Cons

– Some geeks shop and leave in a hurry

My Suggestions

Stop in at favorite stores more often if possible. You might run into familiar faces. Another way it to follow what I suggested at conventions. Sometimes the local stores will have events and activities that you can join in on.

 

My Personal Experiences

I find that I have a hard time meeting other geeks locally. I think the first reason is the culture of the city that I live in. It’s a south Texas city that is old fashion and culturally driven. There isn’t much going on in regards to the geeky world. There are barely a handful of specialty geeky stores and the conventions are even rarer. People also tend to keep to themselves and I think that makes for a lot of private geeks.

To make matters worse, I’m of the female variety. When I step foot in my local stores, I’m just oogled and not really spoken to except by the guys working there. As for geeky girls in this city, they are like an endangered species. Some rare mythical unicorn type that I can’t seem to locate. Those few that do exist are often incognito and you won’t know they’re geeky unless you can talk to them for a while.

This brings me to my own personal strategy. *Ahem* Wearing my geeky merchandise out and about.

Nothing speaks from geek to geek quite like geeky clothing and accessories. It’s the perfect bait! I’ve noticed that geeks can’t help but compliment or comment on that Bleach shirt or on this Mario mushroom key-chain. People you’d never expect will stop to comment and your mind will officially be blown. Mine has several times over.

So when all else fails, wear your geeky stuff proudly and see who speaks up!

 

Britney