Be safe online
By Leigh Scaggs, BCPL network administrator
Whether you’re using a computer in the library or at home there are some basic rules for online safety everyone should know and follow.
The first thing you want to do is keep your computer free of software designed to cause you problems or steal information from you. The library uses a setup which wipes the computer clean between users to rid the computer of personal information but also to clean any malware from the computer. While that’s not logical for your home use, you can be sure to have anti-malware installed. Free options are available for download like Security Essentials. Keeping your operating system and browser up to date will also help.
Use a secure password and don’t use the same one for everything. Use a long password that includes numbers and special characters. I recommend passphrases that are easier to remember like “Passthet@tersM@” or “fallen4you2day!” and don’t use things like your birthday or “password1” or “letmein”. You’re not the first to think of those and hackers know that.
When you’re purchasing online, do so from a reputable site and if you’re in doubt, don’t make the purchase. You also have probably not won a lottery in another country in which you have not purchased a ticket and if you receive a strange email from a friend that doesn’t sound like them don’t respond, don’t click on the link, and don’t click on the photo because they’ve probably had their email compromised and someone is trying to gather information from you.
These are some things not to share on the internet unless you’re very sure of who’s gathering the information – and then still be suspicious: usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, PINs, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers, your birthday or your mother’s maiden name (the last two are often used to verify who you are if you’ve lost a password). An online form can be designed to send information even if you don’t click on the submit button so be careful. When you are at a site you’re comfortable still take the time to be sure the address is preceded by https:// which indicates that the information you’re submitting is encrypted and more protected than normal information going across the internet.
Finally, if you log into an account online (email, shopping, banking …) be sure to logout of the account once you’ve finished your business. Closing the browser does not guarantee that someone else getting access to your computer couldn’t open the browser back up and discover your account has been kept open by browser cookies.
There’s a lot of great stuff on the internet just take a little time to make sure your time there is kept safe.