Useful Advice on Keeping Personal Information Safe on the Internet

Published 12 years ago, updated 4 years ago

The best advice we were given (after PayPal was hijacked and access denied, though we didn’t actually lose anything) was to follow six simple rules.

  1. Never put anything that allows direct access to your banking data through free Wi-Fi – use your credit card – in the worst of cases if that gets hijacked you’re only liable for a very small amount and won’t lose everything.
  2. Type your passwords into (ideally) two separate word documents that are not labelled as such – copy and pasted your card data into the appropriate fields – ditto your name, address etc. This effectively beats keyloggers.
  3. When offshore, remember any time you jump onto an available signal – you are opening up a port on your system, voluntarily, to allow access and that port can be exploited – we use Zone Alarm, the $50 a year for 3 machines is very inexpensive insurance, and it’s reported several attempted “intrusions” in the last year, but we’ve had no more “PayPal” incidents since then. Set your virus software so that only one or two programs, such as your default mail server, can actually send/receive mail – this almost eliminates your computer being hijacked “botted”.
  4. Buy identity theft protection as a rider on one of your policies.
  5. Use cash on all occasions except when in banks or settling known billings (eg dockage) and then only at larger recognized marinas.
  6. If you MUST use plastic – under no circumstances permit it to be removed from your sight, have them bring the machine to the table etc. It only takes, literally, one second to clone your card – explain this before the transaction to avoid complications later.

This will not eliminate all possibilities, but it certainly makes the major, common ones almost evaporate.

As we were informed by a friend in the FBI, if someone’s determined to access your data, you will be a victim – so do what you can to limit your exposure and make the job easier somewhere else – but to remember that almost all thieves are opportunities, and it’s up to us to deny them the opportunity.

Hazel & Bill

MV Memory Maker

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