Online Privacy and Security: Everyone’s Concern

Online privacy and security is not merely an area of importance relegated to IT and Information Security professionals but, rather, should be a primary concern for every individual who has an electronic device (whether PC, notebook, tablet, iPad, mobile phone, etc.) that connects to the Internet. Today’s malicious hackers (not all hackers are malicious, I myself am a Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH)), identity thieves, pedophiles, etc. are becoming more and more technologically astute and, each time you logon to the Web-especially on public networks-you are placing yourself, your identity, and your finances at risk!I know, you think it will never happen to you but the fact of the matter is that Internet-related crimes are on the march and will only continue to grow in numbers as technology becomes more ubiquitous and our connectivity expands. Today, more than any other time in the past, pretty much any electronic device can be connected to a network (especially wireless networks) and any connected device via which an individual shares personal information, or has a connection to another device on which is housed personal information, is at risk. All devices and networks, no matter how great the security, have vulnerabilities. The bad guys know about these vulnerabilities before you do and can and will breach them if you leave the door open.Antivirus software alone (in many cases, even with a firewall) can’t protect you 100%. Online security has to be thought of in terms of layers (think of an onion) and protection applied at the various layers of potential vulnerability.It is recommended that each system have, at minimum, the following placed and configured appropriately. (Note: In most cases, when security software or hardware is installed the software simply isn’t configured correctly. See the detailed manufacturer’s instructions at time of install.)1) Antivirus is a must.2) An adequately configured firewall (there are three possible implementations and nothing wrong with using all three!) which can consist of a software firewall, a router-based complementary firewall, and typically your operating system will have a local firewall as well.3) Anti-spyware software to detect, delete, and block ad bots and the like.4) A tool for “cleaning up” your system that will remove temporary files and unnecessary cookies.5) If a wireless network is in use, then one should be utilizing no less than WPA encryption (not open and not WEP). WEP encryption can be cracked by a neighbor or wardriver in less than 30 seconds on a bad day!6) A network monitoring tool to detect and prevent unauthorized access of non-approved computers from accessing your network (e.g., neighbors seeking “free Internet”).7) A host or network-based intrusion prevention and/or detection system.8) Device filtering on your router.9) Adequate strength passwords.10) Encrypted storage (for securing personal data from prying eyes, both locally and externally).The above are just, what in my mind as a security professional, should be considered the minimum if you truly value your privacy and desire to protect your identity, your family (e.g., your children from pornography and online predators), your finances, etc. But be aware that there are additional tools for garnering and protecting your online privacy and security as well.For example, you can take it further by cloaking your IP address and becoming, effectively, untraceable online, using various IP cloaking software and web proxies (did you even know that every time you go online your connection is logged, your IP address recorded, and your physical location monitored?) You can take this a step further, in terms of security, by utilizing only a virtual private network (VPN) to access the Internet. There are also options for secure and encrypted e-mail accounts, child safe browsers, and so much more. Remember, the key is to think “onion” and layer your security such that you, your family, your finances, your identity, and your peace of mind are protected when it comes to online privacy and security.Make the Internet a safer place by following the above recommendations. The fact is, they are all easy to implement and most of these above tools can be downloaded and utilized absolutely free. So really, cost is not an issue, difficulty of use is not an issue (most of the above are easy to set up and use, and there are guides available online to assist you in any case).Good luck and here’s to your online privacy and security!Copyright © 2012-2012 by

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