June is Internet Safety Month!

Sid Stamm

Happy Internet Safety Month, everyone!

In today’s world it is more critical than ever to be aware of security risks online. High-profile and broad attacks made news quite a bit in the last year. From the Heartbleed vulnerability to spikes in credit card theft and fraud, buzz about online privacy and security is on the rise. Even the White House has turned attention to cybersecurity.

The Ponemon Institute estimates 47% of Americans have had their personal information compromised! So now is a great time to do some routine maintenance this month and beef up your safety:

  1. Download a secure and private browser: A Web browser like Mozilla Firefox supports phishing and malware detection and protection from spyware, and also warns you about potentially fraudulent sites. Additionally, Firefox and most other Web browsers offer a “Do Not Track” feature that lets you opt to not have your information tracked by websites like advertising networks. For a sensitive browsing session you can temporarily enable private browsing which will help keep traces of that session hidden.
  2. Keep your software up-to-date: Ensure any software you download to your desktop or your mobile device – including apps and add-ons – stays updated.
  3. Secure your passwords: Create a unique password for each of your accounts by using a variety of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation marks. The new Firefox Sync makes it even easier to access your bookmarks, history, Awesome Bar intelligence, passwords, form-fill data and open tabs from Firefox running on other computers and mobile phones.
  4. Look for the S: Never purchase anything from a site that doesn’t have SSL/TLS encryption. You’ll know because the site’s address will start with https:// instead of http://. Additionally, never provide your credit card information via email.
  5. Don’t sacrifice security for mobility: Don’t just stop at your home computer. Extend your security to browsing from your mobile phone by making sure you’re always connected to a secure wireless network or your mobile provider’s 3G network before you enter any personal information or passwords or do any online shopping.

The Web is awesome. While we easily get lost in all the amazing stuff we can do online, this June the Anti-Phishing Working Group and National Cyber Security Alliance are encouraging people to Stop, Think, Connect to stay safe online.