I read an interesting article from the Web Worker Daily blog today, about online security, and protecting yourself online.

Basically, with so many sites popping up, and users trying this and that out – should we be worried about it all?

The short answer to that of course is yes. Nevertheless, how should you protect yourself?

Well, many years ago, I worked on a user panel for a Bank Websites, Security system (this was in-between my daily role of as a Branch Manager in the same bank, and its also how I got my first “proper” PC). Obviously security was a high priority, and it was this early intervention that created my unblemished security record online – and I have been on some fairly dodgy sites in my time, sites that have spewed out user details, and sites that I have known to be dodgy, but purely because I wanted to see what the issue was.

My first step is that I have and use two email accounts. When I sign up for the various websites that are around, I initially join using my secondary email address, this gets instantly forwarded to my new email address, and provides an handy “spam trap” should I start being flooded with rubbish from the site.

Secondly I have several passwords, which I use based on the site I am using. My first and most important password is my “Master” password, a strong alphanumeric password. I use this for sites I deem secure, sites such as EBay, Google, and Paypal – basically anywhere that I wouldn’t want to be compromised due to them having my credit card details included.

I then have a secondary Master Password, which is used to protect my “back up” email account (all my mail forwards to a secondary account for back up), and for sites such as Facebook or Myspace, essentially sites that contain personal date, or can communicate to friends and family with.

By controlling the use of these two passwords, to only trusted names, such as Google or Paypal, Amazon, or my bank it ensures that there is a much reduced risk of this password becoming known to a third party, and ultimately stops them from accessing my data.

Finally, I have a third set of much simpler password, e.g. Smith1 which I use for sites which are new, or don’t hold my credit card details – basically I use this level of passwords on sites that I am not worried about being compromised, they would have my incorrect email address, and a password that is useless to any site that contains important information, so they cant go poking around trying to sign into my bank with this password. I use this set of passwords for sites such as forums, or sites where I am not 100% certain on the owner, ethics, or simply if I do not know that I’ll have use for the site, and there is a chance I’ll forget it.

As websites grow, and if I continue to use them, or input my credit card into them, then the security increases with it.

So for example, if a new start up came along with a great service, I would register, using my secondary email address, and a simple password. If I then found that this site grew, and needed profile information or credit card details it then jumps up a security notch, and takes a level one password.

Additionally, I change my “master” password at least every 6 months, It may not be a full change, but I might change one letter or number, so that it is still easy to remember, just needing to change the character I have changed – e.g. lets say my password was A123, I may change this to B123 (Obviously I do not use such a simple password, and I would not amend from A to B)

By using a tiered password system, to date, and I hope in future I have managed to keep my information and data secure.

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