REGION – This final article of a four-part series addresses the steps that can be taken to protect yourself online. With the mid-term election and the holiday season rapidly approaching, here are some self-defense tips to assist in fending off many on-line predators:
1) Update your software. Old operating systems and anti-virus/anti-malware software are vulnerable to a wide range of attacks. Using a computer that has not been updated or not purchasing protective software, even on an Apple product, is like playing Russian Roulette; it’s not a matter of if your system will be compromised, rather, it is a question of when. Unsure of whether of not you are up-to-date? Do a browser search for your software, asking, “Is my operating system (or virus protection) up to date,” and follow the suggestions.
2) Update your passwords. Most devices (computers, tablets, smart phones, home modems/routers) either have a default password or one that has been in use for some time. Change your device passwords to unique pass phrases and record them. Do not use the same password for multiple devices or online accounts. The easiest step is to purchase a password manager and use it for everything. Using this software requires creating a single, master password or passphrase to open a “vault” where all of your passwords can be stored. Only you (and it is highly recommend that you share the master password with a confidant) have access to the “vault,” not even the software developer. If you use an Apple device, the operating software includes an application, Keychain, which serves as a password manager that only you can open. The one negative aspect of this feature is that the access password is the password to the device.
3) Purchase a VPN (Virtual Private Network): Many technology software companies market VPNs which essentially create a private connection to the internet that disguises your online identity and location.
Questions or concerns? Contact email@example.com. Elliott Greenblott is a retired educator and coordinator of the AARP Vermont Fraud Watch Network. He hosts a CATV program, Mr. Scammer, distributed by GNAT-TV in Sunderland, VT – www.gnat-tv.org.