Hackers remind us of security basics

The talk in the online security world for a good part of this year has been about the hacker(s) who caused Certificate Authority (CA) breaches resulting in the issuance of fraudulent SSL digital certificates to big sites like Google, Skype and Mozilla. Those certificates, which have since been revoked, allowed someone to impersonate the secure versions of those web sites.

You may not be familiar with the term SSL certificate, but you see these every day on the web when encrypted connections are enabled. The presence of one of these certificates is indicated most often by a green address bar that displays the name of the organization listed in the certificate as well as the certificate’s security vendor. When a company has one of these digital certificates, it is supposed to be trusted.

Green address bar

Back to Basics

The initial investigation into what happened regarding the CA breaches concludes that a lack of attention to the basics – virus protection, updated patches, strong passwords – contributed to that breach. IT departments worldwide are springing into action and there is plenty of advice for them. The advice given to organizations is the same that we here at WOT have been giving to our community: Use a multi-layered approach to online security.

To keep your computers safe whether at home or in a large networked environment, follow these simple basics:

Update and use your antivirus protection – There are plenty of good quality free AV programs available. Try Avast, Avira, Microsoft Security Essentials, or any number of others. McAfee and Symantec (Norton) provide commercial options.

Use a secure, updated browser and operating system – Make sure your internet browser (e.g. Firefox, Chrome) and your operating system (e.g. Windows XP) have the latest security updates and patches.

Keep your passwords secure – Passwords containing numbers and upper and lower case letters are harder to guess. Avoid using the same password for different services.

Practice safe browsing with WOT – WOT helps you personally, as well as companies with multiple user workstations, stay alert to risky websites so you can avoid trouble when you are online. WOT works with the major browsers and it’s completely free. Download at www.mywot.com.

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