Personal Information Security

We will end this chapter with a discussion of what measures each of us, as individual users, can take to secure our computing technologies. There is no way to have 100% security, but there are several simple steps we, as individuals, can take to make ourselves more secure.

• Keep your software up to date. Whenever a software vendor determines

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that a security flaw has been found in their software, they will release an

update to the software that you can download to fix the problem. Turn on

automatic updating on your computer to automate this process.

• Install antivirus software and keep it up to date. There are many good

antivirus software packages on the market today, including free ones.

• Be smart about your connections. You should be aware of your

surroundings. When connecting to a Wi-Fi network in a public place, be

aware that you could be at risk of being spied on by others sharing that

network. It is advisable not to access your financial or personal data while

attached to a Wi-Fi hotspot. You should also be aware that connecting

USB flash drives to your device could also put you at risk. Do not attach

an unfamiliar flash drive to your device unless you can scan it first with your security software.

• Back up your data. Just as organizations need to back up their data, individuals need to as well. And the same rules

apply: do it regularly and keep a copy of it in another location. One simple solution for this is to set up an account with

an online backup service, such as Mozy or Carbonite, to automate your backups.

• Secure your accounts with two-factor authentication. Most e-mail and social media providers now have a two-factor

authentication option. The way this works is simple: when you log in to your account from an unfamiliar computer for

the first time, it sends you a text message with a code that you must enter to confirm that you are really you. This means

that no one else can log in to your accounts without knowing your password and having your mobile phone with them.

• Make your passwords long, strong, and unique. For your personal passwords, you should follow the same rules that are

recommended for organizations. Your passwords should be long (eight or more characters) and contain at least two of

the following: upper-case letters, numbers, and special characters. You also should use different passwords for different

accounts, so that if someone steals your password for one account, they still are locked out of your other accounts.