Heartbleed is a big deal but being as jaded as we are by all of the security issues popping up everywhere, it seems hard to take it too seriously. In this case taking our time to respond might not be such a bad thing.
The main defense against any security breach is the ubiquitous password. Changing your passwords on all your critical accounts will be paramount to your personal financial security.
But wait, what if you access your account to change your password and the site hasn't been secured yet. How do we know when to change passwords?
Check out this website:
Plug in the website you are wondering about such as PayPal.com or Amazon.com or your bank's website. If it is safe then go ahead and change your password. It is a good idea to change your security questions as well, as these could also be compromised.
Changing your email password is crucial as access to your email account can allow a hacker to change your password on other accounts. Keeping vigil over your email account is important as well. If you are locked out of your email because your current password no longer works, or if you are able to get into your email account but have notices of changes to passwords for other accounts that you did not change you need to act swiftly to safeguard your critical accounts and may need to call your bank and credit card companies to put a temporary hold on activity.
Many sites use your cell phone to verify changes to your account and your cell phone could also be vulnerable. Beware of text messages from your cell provider that offer a link. Clicking on the link could let a hacker into your phone and from there into your accounts even after you have changed the passwords.
Staying secure into the future:
- Get into the habit of changing your passwords every few months or whenever you have a bad feeling that your account could be vulnerable.
- Keep a list of sites where you use your bank or credit accounts to pay for things such as Amazon, Ebay, PayPal, and charities. Change these passwords from time to time.
- Keep a list of phone numbers to your bank and credit card companies along with your account numbers (stored in a secure place) so you can react swiftly to any security breach that arises.
Staying vigilent is your best defense!
Smart phones and other hand held devices operate a little differently. As you move about the world with one of these devices in your purse or pocket it is sending out signals looking for possible sources of connection to the the net even when you are not actively connected. As you pass by major retailers or enter their stores, their powerful receivers catalog your presence and your movements using a unique identifier that comes programmed into your device. How this information can potentially be used to identify you personally by zeroing in on where you spend most of your time, i.e. your address, your place of employment etc., is worrisome to many people. That this information could be sold is also worrisome.
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Information captured by marketers may be less worrisome than how easy it is to be stalked and hacked via your smartphone or other hand-held device. If you are communicating with your social media accounts via the device or if someone has successfully hacked into you phone or device, your movements, activities and personal information can be tracked without your knowledge. You may even be posting your movements for friends and family to see, unaware that this information is being stored and may be accessible by others despite you security setting.
What you share on social media can leave you, as well as family and friends, vulnerable to hackers and stalkers. Here is an article on things you should not be sharing on social media if you value your privacy and security.
If you are running a Windows XP machine, your days are numbered. And that number is 82 today. It will be 81 tomorrow! That's how many days are left until April 2014 when your XP machine will be a relic of the past and if you keep trying to use it on line, you will find it more and more difficult as will as highly risky.
As of April 2014 Microsoft will no longer be supporting Windows XP which means, Microsoft will no longer be issuing security updates, patches and hotfixes for XP.
Hackers are waiting for "zero day" (April 1, 2014) when XP becomes vulnerable to having security holes exploited.
Further, software for XP will no longer be developed which includes business applications, web browsers, Adobe and other apps as well as drivers for all kinds of devices.
Your anti-virus provider may also be unwilling or unable to continue to supporting XP as security issues will skyrocket without security updates from Microsoft.
What to do?
Whether you are an individual or a business still using XP, there is no time to waste to convert to Windows 7 or 8 (we recommend 7) as you may well have to upgrade more than just your operating system. Windows 7 and Windows 8 have minimal requirements that your outdated peripherals might not possess. Further, meeting minimal requirements may not be enough to give you the power and functionality on Windows 7 or 8 at the optimal level you require or have grown accustomed to. Printers and scanners may need to be replaced. Businesses using Microsoft 2003 servers will see support ending in 2015.
Making the switch over at this late date could be tough for businesses running custom software that may need to be redeveloped for a move to the new OS.
Some folks are willing to take their chances on continuing with XP but if your business is storing and using personal data from your customers you might want to think hard on the the security issues and what impact that will have on liability should your system get hacked.
If you are ready to make the move, give us a call or come on in to discuss your options. You might be able to upgrade an existing machine to Windows 7. If you have to build a new computer or get a new laptop, we can help you with that too.