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If news about the Edward Snowden NSA scandal, Target hacking, and the Heartbleed bug left you feeling paranoid, we're glad to hear it. At TechSoup, we believe everyone should have a healthy degree of paranoia about online safety and security.
As part of our Safer Online for Nonprofits campaign, TechSoup has tried to simplify the privacy and security minefield we all face these days. We hope that, while you might still feel paranoid, you'll be able to turn that paranoia into action.
Our Online Safety for Nonprofits and Libraries: Paranoid or Are They Really Out to Get You? webinar featured three security experts/paranoia-inducers:
Here's what these experts recommend.
Both Julian Egelstaff and Emily Eckland recommend using two-factor or two-step authentication for important websites that have financial, medical, or other important information you want to keep private.
Two-factor authentication is a process that requires you to enter additional information beyond a password before you can log in. For example, after entering your username and password on a website, the website sends a code to your phone. You would need to enter that code to log in to the website.
This is much more secure than using ordinary passwords.
Get step-by-step instructions on how to enable and use two-factor authentication at STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
Social media is a popular entry point for phishing and social engineering.
Social engineering is not what it sounds like (at least to me). It is when someone with bad intentions uses publicly available information to trick someone into revealing private information.
So, for example, the ill-intentioned one could find out that you have a rescue pet from looking at your social media account, then email you pretending to be the SPCA or the vet and trick you into providing your name, address, and credit card number to pay an outstanding bill or make a donation.
That's why you should be particularly skeptical about anyone asking for any passwords or account information on email, social media, phone, text, or in person.
Emily Eckland's rule of thumb for email is: "When in doubt, don't click on it."
That means: Don't open email attachments that you're not sure about — even from people you know. Emails can contain malware, and are a common way that spammers and hackers infect your devices.
Also in emails, take a moment to hover your mouse pointer over links to determine if URLs in the body of the message look valid before you click on them. If the web address looks suspicious, for instance it is a strange or unknown domain, then don't click on it. Your device can get infected when you visit such a website.
There is indeed a lot to get paranoid about in our online world. By taking some of the precautions our experts recommend, you can be smarter about your cybersafety.
Do you have a tip to stay safe on the Internet?