By now we know that life on the Internet is like being in a fishbowl. Whether it’s a company hoping to sell information to advertisers, the government looking for suspicious activity, or a malicious hacker, somebody is always watching. It doesn’t help that the number of online accounts each person juggles has multiplied exponentially. We asked David Spire, CEO of United Systems Computer Group in Bradenton, for tips about protecting information online.
“Just from a common sense perspective,” says Spire, “make your credentials as unique and obscure as possible.” That means no birthdays, anniversaries or pet names. Vary passwords between accounts, too, and update them at least a few times a year. It might sound like a hassle, but consider the alternative. “It takes hundreds of hours to clean up identity theft situations,” says Spire, “and you feel so violated.” There are even tools to help remember all those passwords securely. Spire uses SecureSafe.com, which safely stores credentials in a centralized location.
The most common online attack is phishing—when a hacker sends a legitimate-looking email, maybe from your bank, and asks for information. “They prey on our curiosity,” says Spire, “and it’s getting more and more challenging to tell the difference.” Remember that most companies will not ask for important information through email. If they do, you can open a browser and go directly to the site instead of clicking the email. Don’t forget that text messages do not use encrypted text, so never email or text usernames, passwords or Social Security numbers.
Most importantly, says Spire, “Take more time, be more careful, and think before you click.” ■ By Beau Denton
“What did you do with your old coots? This is a much younger crowd.”
—Andres Duany, speaking at the Downtown Sarasota Alliance banquet this summer.
The percentage of residential sales that closed in the first six months of 2013 in Sarasota County that were all-cash. In 2005, the percentage was 17.3. In Manatee County, the numbers are 58.3% and 18.1%.
SOURCE: Sarasota Association of Realtors