11-13-2013 10:18 AM
By Victor Diaz, executive director, Information Security Services
Like the average traveler on the information superhighway, you may pause occasionally to ask, "What can I do to feel more secure? Who can I trust?"
Those questions serve the web surfer well. When anxiety runs high over privacy and security in cyberspace, it's a good idea to take the same precautions online as you would in a bad neighborhood.
Keep these things in mind the next time you go surfing:
• Keep your valuables locked up. In a bad neighborhood, you wouldn't leave your valuables unlocked or your keys where anyone could grab them. The people who live there have the best security mechanisms available: multiple locks, strong doors, iron fences and steel cages — all equipped with keys that can't be duplicated or are unique. In cyberspace, your credentials are the keys. As a customer, you should demand strong, easy-to-use authentication methods on your high-value accounts. Avoid businesses and service providers that don't offer the best security controls. The username-password combination alone is obsolete and as effective as a luggage lock for a bank account. Even car fobs and garage-door openers are more secure. In cyberspace, use Web protection software like Trusteer Rapport to help protect your credentials and examine other credential protection methods for members on usaa.com.
• Don't respond to people you don't know. Responding to text messages or opening emails from strangers is a sure way to have bad things happen. More than 70% of the email in cyberspace is spam sent to get your money or infect your computer, according to 2012 data from Kaspersky Lab, a multinational cybersecurity firm. Sticking with the people you know and visiting respectable websites will reduce your risk. Just like in a bad neighborhood, stay with your friends and watch each other's back.
• Being flashy can get you the wrong kind of attention. Be careful about what you post. Once something is in cyberspace, it probably will be there forever for search engines to find. Unfortunately, the Internet does not get dementia. Posting your habits and personal information to Twitter®, Facebook®, YouTube® and other social sites exposes you to people who could repost it in harmful ways without your consent or use your personal information to access your bank accounts or other vital accounts.
•Be street-smart. Cyberspace has many great uses, but be mature. It's no different than with other forms of mass communication. Out of mass print media came indiscretion-filled tabloids, and telephones led to do-not-call lists. The Internet is massive, powerful and rapidly growing, but your street smarts can guide you. Ask the right questions. Take reasonable precautions. Reduce your risk.
Remember, it's a tough neighborhood.
U Can Do It: Secure Logon from USAA
Originally posted on Oct. 4, 2013
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