By Loraine Debnam
My telephone rang the other morning at 6:30 a.m.
When it rings at that hour my heart always skips a beat as I think there is some calamity happening.
The caller began telling me that I needed to have my computer updated and I must admit I was a bit grumpy.
When I pointed out the time, she replied that I was a “stupid lady” (obviously she was in a different time zone).
Did she really think I was going to listen to her sales pitch at that hour of the morning? Many of us receive these calls on a regular basis – offering a lower interest rate on a credit card, repair a computer or win a free trip to the Bahamas.
Security experts advise us to just hang up or not even answer the call if we don’t recognize the number. It certainly is a frustrating experience.
The caller can become very aggressive and it goes against the grain for many of us not to be polite and listen to their conversation.
Apparently that is what they are counting on.
I always wonder how they got my number in the first place but I have discovered that many websites sell this information to other, less than scrupulous, vendors.
It’s something to be aware of when you are using the Internet or other social media.
Most of us are pretty faithful about locking our homes and vehicles and protecting our personal information by shredding or burning any documents that could compromise our identity, but nearly 60 per cent of us are less conscientious about it when using our computers.
Hackers have little trouble rooting out our financial, credit, or health information. They can even redirect where direct deposits are sent.
It’s important to be vigilant about changing your password on a regular basis. Security is paramount as data thieves are very clever.
We are advised to choose a strong password with at least eight to twelve characters including capital letters, numbers and even punctuation. Don’t begin with the birthdates or names of your parents, children or pets as you may have posted or blogged these details on Facebook or Twitter.
Some people have even been noted to use simple codes like “123456” or “ABC123” or even “password”. How difficult would that be to decode?
A pass phrase is a good idea if you choose one that only means something to you and not to others. Do not use the same code for at least a year after you make a change.
Change your password quickly if you use public access locations like airports, libraries or cybercafés. They are not as faithful about disinfecting their computers as they could be.
If you are on the Internet and visit various sites regularly, you should use different passwords as using the same one increases vulnerability.
Always log out of each website when you are finished so that it doesn’t remain open for hackers and close your browser as well.
E-mails can also be a problem. Be skeptical about opening those from people you don’t know, especially with attachments. Viruses and infections are transmitted this way and they can totally destroy your files or even your entire hard drive.
Do not open sites from an e-mail but go directly to the website if it is something that you are interested in.
Do not leave your Internet open. Always log off your computer and shut it down when you have completed your tasks.
I heard a security expert comment that “your password is like your underwear – don’t share it and change it often”.
It’s funny, but it’s not a joke!