Five Tips To Prevent Hackers From Screwing Up Your Digital Life

I’ve expressed concern over the rapid spread of LCD backlit screens, which disrupt and dominate attention.

Lost focus is one negative byproduct of more screens, but they’re also a big security threat – especially since so many distributed screens and devices connect online with our unique profiles and require deeply personal information, like Social Security numbers, passwords, credit card numbers and more.

I was victimized by a criminal hacking group that took over my site and turned it into a traffic optimizer for black-market drugstores. That was a royal pain in the a$$ to resolve. I’ve also had my credit card number stolen a few times. Fortunately, though, credit card companies (like American Express) protect you well against fraud.

Of course, there’s the recent story of Matt Honan, a poor sucker who was hacked royally, and lost a ton of personal information across devices. He had little backed up.

The key trend is: The more devices and online services you have, the greater your security risk.

Online security company Trend Micro underscored this when it provided some Galaxy Tablets to my family, as part of its Digital Joneses global online security project. These tablets are nice -- like giant versions of my beloved Evo smartphone. But they operate well if -- and ONLY IF -- you equip them with online services that plug directly into your personal identity, like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and more.

As part of the Digital Joneses project, we surfaced some critical tips that every online user should adopt to protect her digital identities and assets. Indeed, this is only the beginning of the proliferation of smart digital devices in our lives. We’re entering new territory, as far as our digital security is concerned.

1. Set up two-factor e-mail authentication, thus ensuring that no one else can log into your e-mail account from a device that you have not authenticated through this system.

2. Use different password for all your online accounts. My method is to use a strong root password and then append additional characters based on the type of service I’m using. This makes it easier to remember passwords across the dozens of online services and devices I use. You can also use password-manager software.

3. Back up all of your most important files to the cloud or to a separate hard drive. Most of our large, valuable data assets are photos, videos and music, so I’d suggest keeping those files with popular online services, like Flickr, YouTube, and Amazon’s music cloud. For documents and other files that are important but not too personal, I use Google Drive. There are a variety of fee-based services that are heavier duty and don’t claim any sort of ownership to your files, which many free cloud-based services do.

4. Avoid browser auto-fill forms with credit card or social security numbers. Credit card numbers and the last four digits of your social security number are sensitive, so avoid giving these out. Again, I use American Express, which has always been by my side during any security breach.

5. Avoid using Facebook or Twitter authentication to log into accounts. As tempting and easy as it is to do this (aka, “the frictionless web”), it is a bad idea to daisy-chain accounts together. That makes it easier for hackers to vandalize your entire digital life online if they are able to gain access to your Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Follow these tips and you’ll stay classy and safe!

How else do you stay safe online?

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1 comment about "Five Tips To Prevent Hackers From Screwing Up Your Digital Life".
  1. Tim Smith from RSBTv , September 4, 2012 at 12:06 p.m.
    I use Two-Factor Authentication across a lot of my accounts. I feel a lot more secure when I can telesign into my account. If you have that option available to you use it, it is worth the time and effort to have the confidence that your account won't get hacked and your personal information isn't up for grabs. I'm hoping that more companies start to offer this awesome functionality. This should be a prerequisite to any system that wants to promote itself as being secure.