Monday, July 27, 2015

Raise your security game

Google recently shared new research that compares how security experts and non-experts stay safe online. To be presented publicly at the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security, Google's research shares the results of two surveys: one from security experts, another with non-experts.

The results demonstrates the top five practices that these classes of users employ to stay safe online:

Security Non-expertsSecurity Experts
  1. Use antivirus software
  2. Use strong passwords
  3. Change passwords frequently
  4. Only visit websites they know
  5. Don't share personal information
  1. Install software updates
  2. Use unique passwords
  3. Use two-factor authentication
  4. Use strong passwords
  5. Use a password manager

Which list describes your browsing habits? If you find yourself in agreement with the non-experts, you can raise your security game by using a password manager to keep your passwords for you. This addresses several problems. The biggest is that many people use the same password for different websites. They might pick one password that is easy to remember, then use that same password for their email, social media, and news websites. All good until one of those websites gets hacked, and now a bad guy has your password to everything.

With a desktop-based password manager such as KeePass, you can have the program set a random password for every website you visit. When you want to visit that website, you simply copy the password from the password manager, and paste it into the password field on the website. Done!

With a browser-based password manager such as LastPass, you also have the program set up a random password for every website. When you visit that website, you click an icon so the password manager can automatically fill in your username and password. Easy!

Using this method addresses items 2, 4, and 4 in the "Security Experts" list. It is an easy way to make your web browsing safer.
photo: Howard Lake

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