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Safer Web Browsing

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

As a reminder, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. We’ve talked about Understanding URLs and Recognizing Online Risks.  Now let’s look at some best practices for Safer Web Browsing.

Vary Passwords from Site to Site – It is important to use different passwords on different sites.  If one account is compromised, other accounts will remain secure.  It is common to use your email address as your username.  If you have the same username and password on multiple sites, hackers will be able to use your credentials gained from a compromised site to login to other of your accounts.  Use strong, complex passwords, especially on sites that hold a lot of your personal and financial information.  Many, but not all, sites require you to change your password periodically.   For any site that contains personal or financial information, you should regularly change your password.  Yes, it can be a bother to use a new password, but it is worth it to prevent having your information compromised.  I use a password scheme that varies by site and when I change one password, I change them all at the same time.

Turn Off Convenience Features – Convenience features of your browser that remember your passwords or automatically fill in forms can put your data at risk.  Malicious web sites can mine data stored within your browser.  If you save passwords, anyone that has access to your computer can access your accounts.

Limit Social Media Logins – Using your Facebook, Twitter, Google or other social media accounts to log into other sites is convenient, but this practice can pose a security risk.  If your social media account is hacked or the site is compromised, your linked accounts are also in danger.  Be selective about using social media logins, particularly for sites and applications that store personal or financial data.

Know Your Browser – There are a lot of different web browsers, including Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, as well as others.  Each browser has unique safety measures and visual cues that identify secure and risky sites.  Do your research to understand your browser’s security features and how they protect your data. 

Log Out When You’re Finished – Be sure to log out whenever you finish browsing a secure site (any site that requires a password).  If you do not log out, hackers can steal your session data and use it to access your account.  Also, anyone that follows you on this computer will have access to your account.