So you have decided to start a website. Great decision. Let us show you how easy it can be to work safer online.
However, this will mean a whole new range of usernames and passwords to juggle as you sign up for free services and trials.
And this would be usernames and passwords in addition to the ones you already have for your regular life.
With this level of added complexity we need to be smart and try to keep login details safe and organized.
You will also be purchasing services from companies that are new to you. Most likely you will pay by card.
The 9 guidelines below are simple and easy and well worth considering as a minimum if you value your online security.
- 1. Use a password manager for all online activity
- 2. HTTPS beats HTTP and the extra S means more secure
- 3. Only interact with trusted, reputable e-commerce sites
- 4.Use security software to stay protected
- 5. Use one designated credit card for higher risk transactions
- 6. Do not give out credit card or login details over the phone
- 7. When possible use 2-factor authentication for sensitive transactions and logins
- 8. Keep track of purchases and compare each one with your credit card bill and online statements
- 9. Update software & operating systems when available
1. Use a password manager for all online activity
To work safer online you need unique and complex passwords for all your logins.
There are people out there who would run scripts to crack your password and if you are using a short or common one-word-and-a-number type password – you are in trouble.
And to create and remember complex unique passwords is really hard – if not impossible. We all fall into patterns with birthdates, house number or names of family members with a twist and it is not good enough.
Some people advocate the use of browser based password managers. Personally I prefer using a password manager provided by a company focused on password management. And browsers will only ever offer password managers as another feature.
I use 1Password and it works really well.
Save yourself the worry and get a password manager. They are really quite cheap and there are even free ones worth checking out.
2. HTTPS beats HTTP and the extra S means more secure
Without getting too technical you should know that HTTPS is HTTP with encryption. And that extra S means the world when you want to work safer online.
What this means is that the HTTPS protocol uses encryption when sending and receiving requests and responses. And it is easy to spot as a website using HTTPS has https:// in the URL as opposed to http://.
And with encryption in place it becomes so much more difficult to steal and make sense of your data.
3. Only interact with trusted, reputable e-commerce sites
When you deal with well known and reputable merchants you know that:
- they have invested in their systems to keep your details safe
- they will not abuse the trust you place in them when you use your online bank or card details to pay
And face it, there are plenty of reputable merchants to choose from.
So stay away from unknown sites with unbelievable deals but only a few reviews and operations based abroad. After all, to work safer online is sometimes as low-tech as using your common sense.
4.Use security software to stay protected
In today’s society we spend many, many hours online. We shop, pay bills, invest and bank online.
And we use multiple devices including personal computers, mobile phones and tablets of all sizes.
Consequently, we all need to be concerned with Internet and online security to stay safe online.
The good news is that there are several companies that offer protection for your virtual presence and activities.
Choose from a monthly subscription online service or a software program – read more
5. Use one designated credit card for higher risk transactions
Transactions and payments can be considered higher risk for many different reasons.
For you it may be online transactions, purchases made abroad or maybe the first payment with any new merchant.
Regardless of how you define higher risk you do not want to use a debit card as it is linked to your bank account.
Instead it is wiser to designate one designated credit card for these types of payments.
This will provide protection for unauthorized use and make it easier to keep watch of all activity. And maybe you want to consider limiting the credit limit in case of abuse.
6. Do not give out credit card or login details over the phone
This is a great general rule though some may argue that it is safe if you are the one initiating the call.
And with regard to credit card details, it may be necessary to share credit card details over the phone to complete a purchase with a reputable company.
And as long as we initiate the call it may be a risk we have to live with.
Needless to say we manage the added risk by following the already established rule to only use the higher risk transaction card with these type transactions.
But with regard to online banking login details – these should never be shared.
7. When possible use 2-factor authentication for sensitive transactions and logins
When you use 2-factor authentication you login as normal with a username and password. And then the magic begins.
2-factor authentication means that a message is sent to you with a code and/or link to complete the login. This additional step provides security and peach of mind in two different ways:
- If someone finds your username and password they will not be able to login unless they also have access to the device that will receive the authentication message.
- In the event that someone uses your username and password in an attempt to login to your account, you will receive a message on your device making you aware of the attempted breach. Malicious attempt will fail and you know to update your details to thwart further attempts.
8. Keep track of purchases and compare each one with your credit card bill and online statements
I never used to do this. And today I cannot believe that I would look at the total and go “Yeah, that seems about right”!
Keep good records of purchases and compare with actual statements at least once a month.
All activity that you do not recognize needs to be investigated and questioned.
An added bonus is that you force yourself to re-visit all the subscription based services you thought were a good idea. Now, at least once a month you can ask yourself, do I actually use that service? Is there not a more affordable alternative?
And with online logins to cards as well as online banking it is fast and easy to do a check once a week.
After all, we spend hours every day in front of TV and YouTube videos whereas in my experience most people spend less that an hour a week on their personal finances.
9. Update software & operating systems when available
To stay safe online it is critical that you stay up to date with available updates for your software programs and operating system.
And yes, this also includes staying up to date with WordPress versions and plugins in use. And only use plugins that are tested with your version of WordPress and do take the time to read the reviews.
Updates are important as they fix known security vulnerabilities and will help keep your website, computers and devices safe.
It is recommended to make sure that your devices and programs prompt you when updates are available. In WordPress you will be reminded by the red “warning” circles as you log into the WordPress dashboard.