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Is As Simple As 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- By: Rusty Rose
Security Should Never Be A Problem!
Because almost everyone seems to have a computer, it is surprising that there are still so many people who are afraid to shop online. And who can blame them? With all the scares of identity theft, credit card numbers stolen, personal information hacked right out of their computer, you can't really fault them too much.
But all that is needed for the ultimate protection, is some common sense and a few simple precautions to take and you're safe, even from the most talented hacker. The number one step is:
#1. Don't Put The Information In Your Computer In The First Place!
Why do you need to store personal information in your
computer? There is absolutely no need for it. If you are not in business, who needs your home address, who needs your phone number, who needs your social security number, who needs your credit card number, or anything else about you that is personal...your date of birth, your maiden name
(if you are a married female)....or whether you're married or single; is nobody's business but your own.
#2. Be Creative
But, you say, whenever you join programs like a photo gallery or a gaming subscription, they ask you these questions. They shouldn't. The only thing you should have to provide is a user name (and you can use any name you want-Barbara Streisand's name if that's to you're liking, or a name that you wish you had when you were a child); and a password. The only real information you should give them is your email address. For anything else, I favor creative answers. If you're an old crone like I am, I like the age of 29-if that's what they're asking; so I count back 29 years and that's what I use for my birthdate. My mother's maiden name can be any movie star I happen to like at the time I'm filling out the form. No one has the right to ask you for any personal information, no matter what program you're subscribing to. If you give them creative answers, it's not hurting them since they don't need the information to begin with, and it's keeping your real personal information off the Internet.
Of course, if you're filling out a resume for a job position, that's a different story. Not only do the people who are asking you for this information who are planning to possibly hire you have the right to ask you the questions, but you have the obligation to answer them honestly. But circumstances like this are rare on the Internet and most reputable companies will treat the information with the utmost respect and security. I've never filled in a resume online, but I think when it came to personal questions, I would simply put in "to be given at interview."
#3. Now How Do We Remember All That Creativity?
Now that we have that settled, how are you going to remember all this information. They might come back and ask you you're birthdate as a security provision if you're having any kind of problems with them. Here's the trick. Get yourself a small Rolodex and keep it by your computer. Whenever you join a program, pull out a card from the Rolodex-print the name of the company in capital letters on the top; under that print your UserId (User Name); and under that print your password. In that order. Those three pieces of information will always be on every card. Keep them in the same order each time and then you'll only have to glance at the card for the information. The very next piece of information should be the email address you used if you use more than one account, and lots of people do. Then you can add any other information, if you had to give it. The birthdate you gave them, mother's maiden name, etc.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU STORE ANY OF THIS INFORMATION IN YOUR COMPUTER - INCLUDING YOUR USERID's (USER NAME) AND/OR YOUR PASSWORDS. DO NOT STORE IT IN YOUR EMAIL, EITHER!
Forget the automatic forms that hold your information. Don't use them. Don't use the automatic fill-ins that browsers give you. It's not that difficult or time consuming to type in your name and email address. Do not allow any company to store your credit cards. If you're an online shopper, when you get ready to shop on the Internet, pull the credit card out of your wallet and put it on the desk beside your computer for reference, but don't leave it in any stores, even if they suggest it to make your shopping faster. (I've solved that problem by memorizing my card number. At my age, it wasn't easy. *Grin)
Keep accurate records of your online doings in your Rolodex, not in your computer. If there is someone in your home you don't trust, or a room mate you're not too sure of, keep one of those small telephone address books in your purse, and use that in place of the Rolodex.
Now, what is a hacker going to get out of your computer? Nothing. Even if they hack into Sears records, or Amazon's records, they won't get your information (maybe your address and/or phone number) but that all important information (credit cards, social security numbers, birthdates, etc) will not be available to them, because they won't be there.
#4. Internet and Online Shopping
Now, the crux of the matter in security. There are still many computer users who are afraid to shop online and are afraid to give their credit card numbers online. Well, I have some good news for you.
[First of all, if you plan on doing a lot of shopping online, but don't want to over-extend yourself - get a debit card from your bank. Ask them for one. That way you will only buy what you have money in the bank to cover. Once you get used to shopping online, it is very easy to over-extend yourself if you have a credit card with a large credit line. Almost all online stores now accept debit cards and it really is the best way to shop.]
Make sure the debit card you get is a "major" card like Visa or MasterCard. When you shop, pick out the major or national chain stores to shop in. They are all safe to deal with. Once you get used to the idea, you will find that shopping online with a credit card is much safer than shopping in a store in person. When you put your credit card number in an online store, for instance like Sears, it is immediately encrypted AND IT DOES NOT GO TO SEARS AT ALL. It goes directly (encrypted) into Visa or MasterCard who in turn checks it's validity and then let's Sears know that it is valid. It all takes only a few seconds before anyone has a chance to see it. (This is why I said DO NOT LET THE STORES STORE YOUR CREDIT CARDS!) Now, the only way a hacker can get your card is by hacking into Visa or MasterCard and, in that case, this would include the card you use at in-store shopping as well as online shopping. I think that would take some doing, anyway. Even if a hacker could do it, with the millions upon millions of cards they have, the odds of yours being chosen would be like trying to win the lottery, pretty slim.
Now compare online shopping to shopping at the store in person. The sales clerk not only sees your card, but has a copy of the number in the sales receipt which is stored there by her cash register for any clerk to see until the receipts are sent to the office. And then, how many people in the office see your receipt with your credit card number on it? Several handlers probably, the computer operator who posts your sales transaction, the accountant who handles the books, etc. Now what seems safer to you?
#5. Now The Last Piece of Information To Complete Your Security-Safe Passwords
The tendency is to find a really neat password and use it for everything, mainly because it's easier to remember. No. No. No. If someone cracks your password, they can get into everything. You need to have unique passwords, especially if you bank online, have a stock plan or retirement plans online or some program that is really sensitive. I have a couple of doozies for my bank account and my PayPal account. I can never remember them and look them up each time I use them. It must be unique and should be at least 8 digits long, preferably 12 with both letters and numbers. No problem with trying to remember them anymore because of the "neat little trick" I showed you using the Rolodex. Keep the Rolodex right by your computer and it just takes a second to flip to the one you're looking for. You can go really wild now with your creativity, because you are no longer going to be using the same password. You're going to make up new ones everytime you join something on the Internet. Nothing will protect you more than this. This is the way to create passwords.
Right now, on my desk, is a gas bill, 3 cookies and a calendar. Okay, how about gas3calendar. There's 12 letters. Lets make it more secure. My gas bill is $20.93. Not usually that low. How about 293gas3calen. Now there's a 12 digit password that would be hard to crack. There is nothing in there that relates to you, your dog, your birthdate (I don't think), your house number, your zip code. Now that's a perfect password. You could even go further and add 4 numbers to the end of it and make it a 16 digit password. Most passwords are case sensitive and you could capitalize a letter, for instance you could make that last one 293gAs3caLen. Let me give you one more example. On my rug, I have a paisley pattern and I would guess it repeats itself about 100 plus times. Each pattern has 5 loops on it. How about 100plus5paisley. That has 15 letters in it. Or 100plUs5paIsleY. Another very difficult one for someone to crack. On my kitchen counter I have 3 eggs sitting waiting to be scrambled and a picture of my daughter with her 2 children. She's got a bright pink blouse on. You could make several passwords from that. egGs33pinK242524. 3 eggs, 3 children, (33) pink blouse and their ages all "scrambled" up. I don't know about you, but I've never heard of pink eggs before. I doubt too many other people have either, except maybe Dr. Seuss. Be very careful when you print the password into your Rolodex between the small letters and the capital letters. I think you've got the idea.
Now, you can go out and shop online with all the confidence in the world. Remember to stick to brand name stores and what better place than at the Brand Name Shopping Mall where you can find Macy's, Sears, Montgomery Ward's, Targets, Wal-Mart's, etc.-almost 60 stores all in one place. You can do comparison shopping, discount shopping with Wal-Mart's and Overstock and take advantage of all the sales. A lot of the stores have free shipping and many of them have on-line sales and buys that you can't get in person in the actual stores. Take advantage of them.
Since 1998, Rusty Rose has been
successful in several businesses,
including internet advertising, with
Rusty Rose's latest endeavor, the
Brand Name Shopping Mall
Copyrighted ©2007 All rights reserved.
Article ID: 431999
Published: January 26, 2007
Category: Internet and Businesses Online :: Security
Article Word Count: 1925