This ongoing compilation is intended to spend less time on rationale and more time identifying actionable items; a list of things you can do right now to secure yourself in this volatile and vulnerable environment we call the Internet. Determining if these countermeasures are appropriate in every situation will be left as an exercise for the reader.
You can mitigate (that is, reduce the damage or effect of) identity theft by placing a security freeze on your credit file.
- Report: Everyone should get a security freeze
- Why you should get a security freeze before your information is stolen
- Things to consider when deciding whether to place a security freeze
A broad topic, certainly, but one you do have control over. Let's start with the basics:
- AVG free antivirus and file shredder
- Malwarebytes free anti-malware; detection and removal
- K9 web protection; Internet filtering and malware defense
- Protect your network with OpenDNS
These are methods for being vigilant as you move from one website, email, and connection to another:
- NEVER accept anything you did not explicitly request to be downloaded or installed.
- NEVER fill out an online form without first validating the website's certificate.
- NEVER open a file attachment in an email unless you are absolutely certain of its sender.
- NEVER click links in an email without manually verifying their destination and intent.
- NEVER send sensitive information (i.e. usernames, passwords, etc) in an email.
- NEVER conduct business, check your email, or login to websites using public Wi-Fi.
- NEVER divulge personal or account information over the phone if you did not originate the call.
- NEVER allow anyone to remotely control your computer.
- NEVER post content or photos that you might want taken down 10 years from now.
- ALWAYS change your password if a website sends you your password via email.
- ALWAYS turn on two-factor authentication where offered (i.e. Gmail, Twitter, etc).
- ALWAYS conduct daily or weekly checks to keep your software and operating system up-to-date.
- ALWAYS conduct periodic scans for viruses and malware, ideally no less than once a week.
- ALWAYS maintain a fresh backup of your most important files (i.e. work, photos of family, etc).
- ALWAYS keep your destination folders clean (i.e. Desktop, Downloads, temporary files, etc).
- ALWAYS use a file shredder to securely erase sensitive files in your Recycle Bin.
- CONSIDER using an Internet filtering software for proactively blocking malicious websites.