This un-article is a reference piece to online privacy and security.
Anti-Virus & Malware Protection
Apple has a built-in application that detects known malware—in general you won't have to install additional programs to monitor for viruses or malware. Microsoft offers a free removal tool on their website, but it's limited in scope. There is no program that does it all, nor is there one that is always the best. Chances are the best option won't be free either. If you're at university, the IT department may offer a free copy.
Any app that claims to protect your mobile devices should be viewed extremely skeptically. Mobile operating systems are not the same as those on our computers.
Good Browsing Habits
- Install the latest browser of your choice and keep it up-to-date.
- Learn to identify phishing (scam) emails and websites. Always try to use
https://in the URL bar.
- Check a website's connection (Chrome)
- How do I tell if my connection to a website is secure? (Firefox)
- Web of Trust: protects against online scams, untrustworthy links, and unreliable web stores
- HTTPS Everywhere: encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure
Your password is probably weak and terrible. Feel free to test it, there are multiple tools. Yes, your IT department at work enforcing strict password rules is a bad idea. But only because you should at least use passphrases or a password manager.
To generate strong passwords:
To securely store passwords that you never have to remember, use a password manager:
Two Factor Authentication
Passwords are terrible in general. To make an account more secure, use a second "factor" for authentication. This is known as Two Factor Authentication (a.k.a. TFA or 2FA for short) The factor usually takes the form of a PIN that is retrieved via a phone app, text message, or email. It could also be a biometric, like your fingerprint. Since it's only available to you, it verifies you're really you. Even if your main password has been stolen, your account is theoretically safe.
- Get the Google Authenticator app.
- Enable TFA for your Google account or look up dozens of other websites and services that you want to protect (i.e. your bank website).
Even with a password on your computer, it's trivial to pull the disk and read it from another computer. To prevent casual data theft (anything that's not a government agency or criminal organization) you should encrypt your computer, especially notebooks that you carry outside of the house.