Should I Use Social Networking Sites?

This is more of a personal question, as most of the sites have some sort of privacy related clause / statement that I don’t like. The key to security relating to social networking sites is knowing what you are getting into.

The two biggest areas I have issue with on social networking sites are:

  • Information that you submit can be used by attackers via social engineering.
  • Content you create or upload might no longer belong to you and the site could use it for whatever purposes they desire.

How to Protect Your Credit Card Information Online

With the recent news headlines of store breaches, everyone is worried about their information. We have already covered how to monitor your situation, and in this article we will cover how to protect your card information while actively using it.

Slowly gaining popularity, there are services that “mask” or “generate” new credit card numbers for you during a transaction. It works by you never giving the true credit card number and information to the store. A new temporary number is generated from the service, often with a maximum value to spend and the store gets that information. In the case the store gets hacked or breached, this temporary number is useless because the card is already “maxed” out from your one time spend, and the card number is likely not valid anymore.

One service called DoNotTrackMe gives you this functionality for $45/year and Bank of America has the ShopSafe service addon. Other banks and services might exist, these are just the couple I’m aware of.

Should I Shop Online?

After the banking question, the next question usually is about shopping online. I too shop online, but still have some guiding principles to keep my risk low.

  • Only shop at reputable online stores.
  • Use a credit card and not a debit card. The card companies are usually on your side to protect you from fraud. Using a credit card gives you the most protection.
  • Use an alternate email address. This way you get spam or other newsletter advertisements from the store, it will not hit your primary email account.

Should I Bank Online?

I get asked this question often from family members, and while they are looking for a yes or no answer, I can’t leave them with just a yes. Yes I bank online. But I apply several underlying cyber security fundamentals when I bank online. I would advise you to do the same.

A couple items stick out to me:

  • I don’t bank online from a public internet connection or a connection that I do not trust
  • I make use a security zone by using a computer (okay a virtual machine) dedicated to banking.
  • After I login and perform the action needed, I log out and clear out any caches.

Security is always a balance of convenience and usability to actual security. By sticking to these principles, I have a system that reduces my risk from potential attackers.

Common Online Usage Post Series

Coming next is a post series from common questions on online usage. Feel free to ask additional questions in the comment section below.

The post series will contain the following:

  • Should I Bank Online?
  • Should I Shop Online?
  • How to Protect Your Credit Card Information Online
  • Should I Use Social Networking Sites?