Help safeguard your online experience by being aware of the following Internet safety and security concerns.
Keep your Computer up-to-date – accept the updates
You know that little ‘security update reminder’ that pops up every once in a while in the bottom right hand corner of your screen? Make certain you accept these updates. Security threats to your computer are constantly being discovered. To prevent these vulnerabilities from being exploited, updates are released to correct them. These updates need to be applied to protect your computer.
Your operating system is responsible for the day to day operation of your computer. Due to the complexity of an operating system, security vulnerabilities are common. Please ensure your operating system is automatically applying these updates on your behalf.
Browsers are used to view web sites. The web is evolving very quickly, and it’s important to remain current, not just for security but to ensure web pages work correctly. Check that your browser is notifying you of updates or automatically downloading them.
Using an older operating system or browser puts your information at risk. At some point, all programs reach the end of their life, and known vulnerabilities will no longer be corrected.
Protect your computer
Connecting to the Internet exposes your computer to every other computer on the Internet. It’s important that your computer only allows communication from computers you initiate contact with first. This is the purpose of a firewall. Any unwanted attempts to connect to your computer will be denied.
Using a firewall is absolutely critical to protecting your personal information and the files stored on your computer. Modern operating systems such as Microsoft Windows XP and Apple Mac OS X have firewalls built-in. Older operating systems will need to install one.
Check if your firewall is protecting your computer:
You can be infected by a virus through e-mail attachments, downloaded files and shared network directories, discs or USB drives that have been exposed to other infected computers.
Anti-virus software is designed to identify and remove viruses. For anti-virus software to be effective, it must be running all the time and be continually updated. It is not uncommon for virus software to download daily updates to protect your computer.
Spyware is a general term for unwanted software that has been unknowingly installed on your computer and is usually difficult to remove. Spyware typically displays ads and/or collects your personal information. This can contribute to identity theft. Spyware can be installed through security flaws that have not been corrected, but it is not uncommon for some free software to be supported through spyware. When installing software, it’s important to always read the end user license agreement to see what you are agreeing to.
Anti-Spyware software can help protect your computer. Through regular scans, known spyware can be identified and cleaned from your computer. Like viruses, new spyware is constantly appearing. It is imperative that anti-spyware software be updated regularly to remain effective.
Wireless connections by default are not secure, allowing anyone in range to also join your network. Protecting your wireless connection will ensure only authorized individuals are using your network. Securing your connection involves selecting a method of encryption and providing a common pass phrase that will be shared amongst the authorized users.
For more information, please view Microsoft’s general article on Improving the security of your wireless home network.
Use a Strong and Unique Password
While it may be convenient to use the same password every where, or use simple passwords you’ll remember, it is a big security risk. Consider these tips to create a strong password.
- DO use upper and lower case characters, numbers and symbols to increase the complexity. This can help prevent random guessing and dictionary attacks on your password.
- DO consider changing your password often.
- DON’T use passwords based on names, birthdays, phone numbers, and other common knowledge. They are too easily guessed.
- DON’T allow form AutoComplete to save the user account and password to important sites that can reveal personal information about you.
- DON’T reveal your password to anyone, including us. MedicAlert employees do not know your password. Should you forget your password, we can assign a new temporary password to enable you to sign in and provide a new password of your choosing.
Beware of Online Fraud
The most common form of online fraud is phishing. Pronounced fishing, it is exactly what you think, using bait to trick someone. The bait usually involves authentic looking communication from a company asking the recipient to reveal something of value to an imposter. The most common type attempts to acquire a password either directly by asking for it, or indirectly by suggesting something has happened, pressuring you to sign in and reveal your password. Phishing attempts rely on creating a near perfect impersonation, but there are steps you can use to identify real sites.
Don’t click on links
If you receive a suspicious e-mail, don’t click on any links provided. Links can appear legitimate, and still go to an imposter’s website. Instead, open your browser and visit the website directly by typing in the proper address.
Look for the locked padlock
Before entering any personal information, such as a password, verify the website is displaying a locked padlock as opposed to an unlocked padlock. The difference can be subtle. The padlock maybe located at the top of the screen, or the bottom. The locked padlock lets you know the site is secure, but it doesn’t say anything about the owners of the site. For that, double-click the locked padlock to reveal who the site claims to be, and what authority has verified this. Modern browsers have recognized that the locked padlock is not distinct enough on its own, and may also alter the address bar in someway to show the browser is now secure.