Holes in My Online Security? More Likely Than You Think.

Everyone likes to think they are safe traversing the Internet landscape day-to-day, but how truly safe are you? In this week’s blog entry we will be discussing the topic of security and privacy in online spaces, and how what I have learned through MCO 425 to help improve my online defences. 

To be completely honest, my own online security is very… lacking. Being rather reserved helps me keep to myself online, so I do not worry much about anyone taking my posts online and using them to either blackmail or stalk me. Every important account I have also has 2-factor authentication and, if it is available, biometric authentication on. So what is the achilles heel in my online protective bubble? 

I am lazy and my memory sucks!

Yes, that is true… My very own laziness and very crummy ability to remember username + password combinations is leaving an opening for someone to take advantage of.

After module seven, I realize now that I best get off my butt now and patch that hole in the bubble before it is too late. How will I go about that? By using the tips and tricks I learned from module seven’s readings and videos, of course.

At the end of the module, I had found there to be two protection areas the most affected by my achilles heels were: password management and keeping up-to-date with my latest software updates. One I knew was a problem, the other I had no idea would be putting me at as much risk as it. Let’s start with the mistakes I made (semi) knowingly:

Passwords

I will cut right to the chase, I use Chrome to save all my passwords and most of my passwords are created with a “system”. That “system” has several variations of two password “cores” that I use for almost every online account I use. According to Scott Gilbertson in his report of the The Best Password Managers to Secure Your Digital Life, “Web browsers have other priorities that haven’t left much time for improving their password manager.” So while Google Chrome might be a convenient place to store my passwords, it is not a safe place. Chrome’s password saving feature also lacks important password etiquette features that you can get with a dedicated password manager. 

For example, I recently created a LassPass account and had no problem transferring all my passwords saved on Chrome to my account. I only stuck with the free version of the manager, but I was happy with even just that because of the extra level of security the manager added. If I stick with it, I would like to try the premium version for the weak password detector and dark web monitoring features.

Software Updates

The “remind me tomorrow” button and I know each other well. I often see them when they pop-up in the middle of a game or school assignment when the pop-up they are attached to asks me to update my system. Little did I know that doing that was opening up myself to hackers. On the topic of keeping your systems up-to-date, Dan Gillmor in Protecting Yourself Online Isn’t as Easy as It Used to Be, but It Can Be Done concludes from the University of Pennsylvania and Secunia’s study that, “…findings may well suggest that the more often a product is updated with new features, not just bug fixes and security patches, the safer it’s likely to be…”. With that new perspective in mind, I plan to keep on top of my system updates.
Rethinking your own cybersecurity choices after reading this post? Check out Mayim Bialik’s 5 Tips for Cybersecurity Safety video hosted on IBM’s YouTube channel for other ways you can improve your own virtual defense.

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