Best practices for internet security and online safety.
With the depth of available internet-based games, there can be a lot of information out there regarding online security and safety. The goal of this article is to define some best practices to ensure your online experience is fun, as well as safe and secure.
Let's talk about passwords first. These are essentially the 'keys to the kingdom' in your online life and gaming. So how do you make sure you are using good, secure passwords that are difficult to guess?
One way is to use a different password for every site and/or game you play on (though we realize that's a lot to remember).
Most of us do not really want to remember a different password for every website or video game that we log into on a regular basis, so we tend to reuse passwords and/or usernames. This is not a good practice! If someone gets your username and password for one site, they can very easily begin trying that username and password on other sites as well.
The best way to protect yourself online is to use a different and unique username and password for each and every website/game/online account etc. that you log into.
So is there a way to balance security versus having to remember a whole lot of usernames and passwords?
One way to balance security with usability is to choose a unique 'modifier' for each site or game. For example, incremental options such as adding numbers to the username/password combination can make very unique log-in credentials. Adding non-alphanumeric characters like !, @, #, $ etc. to your usernames and passwords make them even more secure.
Using a semi-common username (e.g. always using a variation of "JoeSmith" or "JaneSmith") is fine, but make sure that something sets it apart for each website/game or online account (e.g. "JoeSmithSiteA#1" or "JaneSmithSiteB#4"). The same principles can be used to balance security and convenience for passwords as well.
Lastly, never make your password the same as your username. This is a very common mistake that is very easy to find and use to compromise an account.
What about the 'social' aspects of online security?
As the internet and online gaming are very social arenas, it is easy to forget to protect our data and private information. This is a good guideline to keep in mind:
"If I wouldn't tell a stranger on the street this stuff, I shouldn't tell 'JoeSchmoe32' either, even though we've been playing the same online game or posting on the same blog together for a long time."
If you would not share information with a complete stranger, don’t share it online. Remember that even though you might 'know' someone online, that does not necessarily mean you really 'know' them. The best practice is to keep the guideline above in mind and remember that if it makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts and be careful what you share with the person on the other side of the screen.
All in all, online security is a must these days. Hopefully, this short guide has given you some ideas about protecting yourself and your personal information online.