Out along the edges
Always where I burn to be
The further on the edge
The hotter the intensity
Highway to the Danger Zone
Gonna take it right into the Danger Zone
Highway to the Danger Zone
Ride into the Danger Zone
Back in 1986, Kenny Loggins belted out these lyrics on a song that became synonymous with the movie, Top Gun. I am pretty sure I have visions of being Maverick and flying my F-14 through the skies like a wild naval aviator. And I know that in the late 80’s I had no thought that there would be a different kind of “Danger Zone” that almost all of us encounter on a daily basis. The Danger Zone we call the Internet.
The headlines about security vulnerabilities seem to be popping up at a faster pace than ever. Issues with Adobe Flash, Internet Explorer, PayPal and eBay have made “front page” news in the mainstream media in recent weeks and Heartbleed Mania seemed to grip the world for several days back in early April. All these reported dangers make you want to just go offline and avoid the Internet. However, going offline is not an option for us in our work lives and for many is not an appealing option in our personal lives.
Fortunately in our work lives we have IT departments that are focused on keeping us safe online while carrying out our daily work tasks. Every day information technology professionals are making sure our anti-virus software is up-to-date; deploying security updates to web browsers and other software packages; forcing the change of passwords on a regular basis; monitoring network traffic and blocking that traffic when it looks suspicious; preventing access to websites that are known to be compromised or used as launch points for installing malicious software on your computer; and reviewing daily notices of potential security vulnerabilities. Most of these activities happen behind the scenes without a need for any action on our part.
Unfortunately in our personal lives we do not have a corporate IT team to keep an eye on protecting us. Each of us has to take actions to protect our own personal computing environment. The actions you take help protect not only you but also your employer since in many cases we use personal devices for work purposes as well. Here are 10 things basic things to do with your personal computing that will help protect you and potentially your employer and their customers:
- At a minimum, use separate usernames and passwords for work vs personal sites and applications
- Where possible, use a unique username and password for each site. A password manager such as Lastpass or Keypass can aide in securely keeping track of those accounts and passwords.
- Change your passwords on a regular basis. A good guide is to change once every 90 days.
- Make sure your personal computers have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed and that updates are applied to the anti-virus software on a regular basis. These updates can typically be set to happen automatically.
- Make sure to install operating system and application (like Microsoft Office) updates on a regular basis. These updates can typically be set to happen automatically.
- Be aware of the websites you visit. If you click on a link and end up someplace that does not look right, exit from your browser.
- Be extremely cautious when asked to input payment and personal information; make sure the URL matches the site you are using and the connection is secured.
- When clicking on links via email make sure the link matches the intended destination and does not include a hidden link.
- Only download software/applications from the software publisher’s website or a site the software publisher directs you to for download.
- Install Pop up blocker and ad blocker plugins for your web browsers
While we can never be 100% secure when online, the steps taken by our own actions can reduce to chance of being impacted by the dangers that exists online.