Folks, secure your digital life!

Folks,

Securing your digital life is becoming increasingly more important. Too much of our life, and the information that is part of it, is somehow or somewhere online. This is not something that should scare you, but it should be something that you are aware of and understand how to take steps to minimize the possibility of your personal information being compromised.

I am NOT a security expert and this is not comprehensive, but below are a few easy to implement steps to take that will SIGNIFICANTLY increase the difficulty of your accounts being compromised.

Email

Folks, if there is one account that should require a meaningful effort to lock down – this is it. Your email account is generally THE gateway to the rest of your life. Not only does your email likely have thousands and thousands of correspondence (many with attachments), but your email address is likely THE way to gain access to many of your other accounts. So if someone obtains access to your email account, well, they are in a position to really wreak havoc on you if that is their intention. LOCK IT DOWN FOLKS!

We all recycle passwords, but your email account (at least the one you use as a primary one) should have its own designated password that is not used anywhere else. This account is just too important and should have its own that is changed on a regular basis. You decide how often but make it part of a routine –change it twice a year, for example.

Try using a random sentence as a password that is easy for you to remember. Mix up a few letters with numbers. For example, try replacing the letter E with the number 3. It is easy to remember and adds to the complexity of the password.

Example: bostonyank33sdriv3soup! (Boston Yankees Drive Soup!)

2 Factor Authentication

Many of you have probably seen the security token key chains that businesses and banks have used to access their systems. It usually was a little key fob with a random number that was always changing. This is 2 factor authentication. Basically, it is a method that requires not only your password BUT ALSO a separate code that only the person with physical access to the token has.

2 factor authentication is a system that requires SOMETHING YOU KNOW with SOMETHING YOU HAVE. The token can be your smart phone. There are apps (I recommend Google Authenticator) that you can install on your smart phone to act as your key fob. You can easily implement this system with many of your accounts (Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Evernote, even Xbox Live) and I highly recommend it.

I recommend you install the Google Authenticator app on your phone and then setup 2 factor authentication with your accounts where possible. Just remember, you will need physical access to your phone to gain access once your accounts are setup – so keep your phones handy and make sure they are locked down with a code or password as well!

If you google “2 factor authentication” you will find ample information on how to set it up. Likewise for other accounts. Take 20 minutes out of your day and set this up and know that your accounts are MUCH safer now.

Stay safe and happy holidays all!

Installing Google Authenticator – Click Here

Twitter – Click Here

Facebook – Click Here

Google Accounts – Click Here

LinkedIn – Click Here

About Jose Velez

I received my degree in economics and finance from the University of Texas at Dallas School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences in 2006. Since then I have worked within the energy industry focusing on regulatory and environmental issues.
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