Apparently this week – February 4-10 – is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW). Their official website is here, and offers links to info for businesses and consumers, as well as an packet you can get in the mail.
While their info is pretty general, it’s still worthwhile. And it never hurts to be reminded to protect yourself and your information. Especially now, when there’s so much online fraud, scams and viruses. But in addition, there’s a lot of bad security just because people don’t know how to protect themselves, or are just too busy to think about it.
So we’re encouraging everyone to spread the word about this, as well as to make sure your own protection is in good shape, and that you follow good information security practices all the time. Like checking your smoke detectors when you change your clocks, we’re in favor of anything that helps you remember to do regular checkups of your information security.
I’ll limit myself to my top 3 personal security tips:
- Use secure passwords, and change them regularly. This means not using words that are found in a dictionary, and not using just numbers. And yes, most good passwords aren’t easy to remember or think of. We have a free online password generator and a free downloadable password generator, as well as the one that’s built-into every version of eWallet. And of course you can use eWallet to safely and conveniently store all those passwords you won’t be able to remember.
- Don’t use CC: on emails. Use BCC if you’re sending an email to any group of people except those who need the email addresses of the people you’re copying. Spam isn’t just a nuisance – it can be dangerous. Every time anyone sends an email CC’d to me, my email address gets put on every PC of everyone who gets that email. So if only one of them isn’t extremely careful, or forwards the email to someone who isn’t extremely careful, a trojan or virus can much too easily find its way back to me. I’ve been wondering why so many people who should know better don’t use BCC; Jason Dunn wrote a post this weekend that might explain some of it. But really, people, please stop using CC:. You’re only helping the spammers and bad guys, and endangering your friends.
- Destroy physical info too – yours and your customers’. A lot of people are careful about their electronic information, but then throw away bank statements, bills and other pieces of paper containing things like credit card or social security numbers. If I was going into identity theft, I wouldn’t bother trying to hack websites; I’d just dive into the dumpster at a nearby condo complex. Shredders are cheap and easy; just get one and use it. And if you have backup CDs with your own or your customers’ information on them, this little guy is a great way to easily and safely (no CD shrapnel) erase them before throwing them out.