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Three things you should do to stop people nicking your identity/credit card online

The Playstation break-in might mean that 70 million people’s passwords may have been exposed. Imagine you’re one of those people and you use that same password for Amazon or your email. The criminally minded could easily start spending money from your account.

And how many emails or facebook messages have you seen recently from people’s whose accounts have been hacked. This is more that a minor inconvenience and as our lives get more webby, we all really ought to take 15 minutes to improve our own online security. Think of it like getting a digital smoke alarm installed

1. Get a password manager

You need a different password for every site you visit. That way, if one site gets hacked, your other accounts are unaffected. This is not as bad as it seems! I recommend 1Password. It’s simple and lets you:

 – generate ugly, uncrackable passwords

 – logs in automatically to sites for you (you never have to type them yourself)

 – syncs securely to your iPhone

 – has web access for use elsewhere

2. Make your laptop useless to thieves

If someone nicked your laptop, could they just start it up to get in? And would your logins and passwords be already remembered for convenience in your browser? That’s a bit like leaving all your doors unlocked. So:

 – Put a password on your laptop

 – Set your browser to not remember passwords and also to delete all cookies on close (1Password will still log you in easily anytime)

 – if you’ve got any seriously sensitive stuff, set up an encrypted folder using truecrypt

3. Shield yourself when using public wifi

You know those hotspots called “free public wifi”? Well some of those are dodgy fakes that are being run from the shady bloke’s laptop in the corner of the coffee shop. He’s logging all traffic and passwords being typed in by anyone connected to that signal.

You can avoid this by getting yourself a VPN. Think of it as driving through the internet inside a bulletproof car.

 – I recommend Witopia. It’s easy to use – you simply click one button to switch it on and from that point on, all your web activity is encrypted and impossible to snoop on