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10 simple data security settings that go unused

Posted In Security - By Techtiplib on Sunday, April 27th, 2014 With No Comments »

Many people believe that they’re doing enough to protect their information online, but in addition to complicated passwords, there are plenty of lesser-known, easy-to-use security measures that even the most tech-savvy users may be completely unaware of. Mashable writer Jess Fee recently shared 10 simple security settings that go unused, as well as ways to implement them during day-to-day web activities.

Deleting stored location information from social media sites is just one simple protection measure that Fee highlighted. Twitter automatically stores location information on its users if they enable Tweet location just once, but this feature can be disabled at any time by heading to the “Tweet Location” section under Settings. 

Fee also warned readers to be wary of phishing schemes, wherein hackers use fake login pages to trick users into typing their username and password. 

“Some login URLs will look trustworthy, but aren’t actually associated with the site they’re claiming to represent,” she wrote.

Therefore, it’s important for users to have anti-phishing tools at their disposal, and to make sure that pages which request personal information are genuine. For example, before typing a username and password into Facebook, users should make sure that the landing page reads “http://facebook.com” and not something like “http://facebook.example.com” 

10 simple data security settings that go unusedAnother important security setting that can eliminate password scams is what’s known as “two-factor authentication,” “two-step verification,” or “multi-factor authentication.” According to Fee, two-step verification is becoming increasingly common, as sites including Twitter, Google, Apple, LinkedIn, and Evernote now have some sort of two-step verification system in place. These security systems allow users to have a security code sent to a mobile device before logging in from any computer, phone, or tablet.

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This setting can usually be enabled with just a few clicks in the Security or Options section of various online accounts, but many users seem unaware of how easily it can be implemented – the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that while 37 percent of consumers have been victims of a phishing attack, most Americans still don’t use two-step verification. 

A final tip Fee shared for managing online accounts is to review access history on websites that allow it. Sites like Evernote make it easy to spot suspicious activity with Access History features, which track the IP address, physical location, and date every time the account is accessed.

These additional security steps may seem unnecessary, especially for users who already have complicated passwords. But, as Fee pointed out, it’s important to remember that no one is immune to attacks from hackers.

In 2012, Wired’s senior tech reporter Mat Honan had his Amazon, Apple, Gmail, and Twitter accounts hacked in under an hour. In a blog post at the time, Honan admitted that the situation was his own fault, and said that the whole ordeal – which took him days to resolve and cost him all of the data on his iPad, MacBook, and iPhone – could have been avoided had he only had two-factor authentication set up for his Google account. 

“Getting into Amazon let my hackers get into my Apple ID account, which helped them get into Gmail, which gave them access to Twitter,” Honan wrote. “Had I used two-factor authentication for my Google account, it’s possible that none of this would have happened, because their ultimate goal was always to take over my Twitter account and wreak havoc.”

Use password manager to create a complicated password which is a great way to safeguard online information. Everyone can learn from Fee’s blog post as well as Honan’s unfortunate loss – the more protection there is for online accounts, the better.

Online security isn’t just a good idea anymore,” Fee explained, “it’s an essential safety measure for anyone using the web.”

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