Are Your Passwords as Secure as You Think?
You’ve chosen what you think is a strong password; no-one would guess what it is in a month of Sundays – or would they? In this age of computers and high-tech hackers, is your password as secure as you’d like to think?
Signing up to any online resources such as chat rooms, discussion forums or article and auction sites will almost always require you to supply a certain amount of personal information and inevitably choose a password. Hopefully, you’ll pick a password that should ensure all your details remain safe and secure. If you’re inventive with your choice of password, then you may be relatively safe, but using the same one you use for all other websites you login to or not giving your choice sufficient thought could mean that your personal details don’t remain private for very long.
One of the ways unscrupulous hackers are making huge sums of money is by stealing supposedly protected information from other users’ computers with the aid of a programme called a ‘keylogger’. A keylogger lets someone see what another user has been looking for by logging what they see from their keyboard. A programme called a ‘keylogger’ is a special program that forces a remote user to look for information using instructions downloaded from the internet. From the information received, the hacker can gain access to a user’s files and can even read and delete them.
A major drawback of many keyloggers is that they exhaustion their own resources and even causes the computer’s operating system to slow down. Once one account is broken into, the hacker is tempted to use the same technique for every account belonging to the victim.
Conduct a Remote Inspection
One method of protecting your computer is to conduct a remote inspection. Using methods such as a sniffer and an ‘ethical hacker‡ can allow you to search for insecure features in the underlying hardware of a computer. By using a protocol such as ICMP echo request/reply (e-mail) or TCP/IP protocol (data on the wire), a malicious hacker can trace almost any transaction that happens on the wire. At the very least, your computer will come alive as an extra merchant on the line.
Here are some guidelines to help you protect yourself:
1. If you receive an email asking you to update your banking details, chances are it is an unsolicited one. Don’t respond to it.
2. The same applies to any email containing a link for you to click on in order to access some service or piece of software. If you are going to click on it, then you need to be sure it’s a secure one. Some versions of anti-virus software have this built in, but you should know that not all anti-virus software will detect all viruses.
3. Most importantly, know the person that sent you the email. If you have a bad feeling about someone, then trust your instincts – don’t click on that link.
In summary, if you get an email asking you for your bank details, then don’t click on the link. If you are really concerned for your account then go and call your bank. Using the link in the email is just asking for disaster. Don’t click and sign in to your account in order to find out what is happening.
For the ultimate protection, never ever click on a link in an email asking you for your bank details. If you are in doubt then call the bank that sent you the email and just ask them if they sent you that email. If they say no, then that is even better. Keep your eye on the address bar on your browser as well – if it says HTTP (Hyper Text Transport Protocol) then it is most likely a phishing or SPAM email.
Use of Internetsoft’s Secured Socket Layer (SSL) certificate, so that you can make sure that you are accessing all your Website sites over a secure network.
Strong Passwords for all of your online accounts. You should have at least 10 characters for each account.
A Passport or driving license is a more secure form of identification.
Signing up to any news groups, forums or chat rooms.
Contact the company directly and ask if they requested that information.
Delete any email with a suspicious or unusual title.
Don’t download any software that has no white or yellow “Last Updated” date.
If you have given out your personal information then immediately call the bank and notify them that you have received a suspected email.
Detecting Spam messages is not foolproof; however it is very effective in stopping unwanted e-mail.
To prevent your inbox from flooding with spam messages it is advisable to select “