Digital crime is a growing problem not only in the United States, but worldwide. If you exercise caution and educate yourself, you can increase your chances of not becoming a victim of a scam or scheme.
What You Can Do
There are no “magic bullets” to keep you and your information safe from scammers, malware, surveillance, and cyber criminals. A combination of tools and techniques, however, can drastically increase your Internet security and privacy.
E-mail is perhaps the most popular way to steal sensitive information through the Internet. It is often sent and received unencrypted, and junk mail / spam filters will not catch everything. Phishing scams are becoming increasingly-sophisticated and are made to look like they are coming from an authentic source (a university, your financial institution, a personal contact). Although such e-mails may be legitimate, they may also be an attempt to scam you out of your money – never give or send cash/check without seeing and receiving the goods in question. Your personal and credit information should never be treated casually, or traded for promises of money, housing, or employment. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Tips to Protect your E-mail
- Yale ITS guide to Identity Theft and Phishing
- Microsoft - What Is Phishing & Report Phishing
- E-mail Self-Defense
Immediately report e-mails that look like phishing or contain suspicious links to firstname.lastname@example.org. To determine the actual origin and to make a full investigation possible, ITS requires that you provide the full header of the message.
If an e-mail seems to be part of a bigger, non-phishing scam (housing/rental scam, asks for credit card, etc.) send a copy to email@example.com.
Creating a Strong Password
The object when choosing a password is to make it as difficult as possible for someone (or some computer program) to guess what you’ve chosen, yet easy enough for you to remember without writing it down.
Secure Password Storage
No one likes to remember the multitude of passwords required to live a “digital life.” However, creating diverse passwords for different programs and websites is very important. For this reason, many people write down passwords on paper post-it notes or keep a spreadsheet on their computer. A much safer way to store these passwords is to install and configure software specifically designed to safely contain your passwords. KeePass and KeePassX are two options for securely storing a database of passwords.
More Password Tips:
Security Starter Pack
The Electronic Frontier Foundation offers “playlists” to guide you through cyber security basics. These resources will help you discover how to assess your personal risk, protect your most cherished communications and information, and start thinking about incorporating privacy-enhancing tools into your daily routine.
- An Introduction to Threat Modeling
- Communicating with Others
- Creating Strong Passwords
- What Is Encryption?
- Keeping Your Data Safe
- Protecting Yourself on Social Networks
- Choosing Your Tools
For a more detailed, explanatory booklet, refer to Susan McGregor’s excellent guide for journalists. It contains basic explanations and diagrams relevant for every Internet user.
To better choose software that will respect your privacy and security, refer to the resources below.
Software at Yale
Yale ITS is the authority on specific software in use at Yale, and what you can do to protect sensitive data inside and outside the Yale network. Please take a look at the helpful ITS guides below.