Internet Security

Have You Taken These 5 First Steps to Secure Your Accounts Online?

Mihir Patkar 08-10-2016

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), a joint effort between the U.S. government, industries, and security-centric organizations. It’s a good time to pause, take a moment, and check if you are using safe practices online.


Internet miscreants are trying to get to your data all the time. You need to first check if your account has been compromised 9 Signs That Show You You're Being Hacked It's not always easy to tell if your computer has been hacked, but there are a few signs that can tip you off. Keep an eye out for these nine indicators and act fast! Read More . Then you have to secure it against intruders.

You are making it far too easy for hackers if you don’t take these five simple steps to strengthen your online security. They’re free, they take less than five minutes each, and you will rest easy knowing you’re protected.

1. Leaked Source [Broken URL Removed] (Web): Check If Your Account Has Been Compromised

Online Safety and Security -- Leaked Source

We often hear of malicious elements getting their hands on private accounts and passwords. Even a large service like Gmail has leaked 42 million account credentials Is Your Gmail Account Among 42 Million Leaked Credentials? Read More . With so many online services, how do you know whether your account credentials are already known?

Leaked Source is an online database of all leaked emails, usernames, passwords, IP addresses, and other account-sensitive information. Go to the site, search for your email, username, name, phone number, or IP address. In minutes, Leaked Source will tell you if you figure on any of the leaked lists so far.


2. Lastpass Security Challenge (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera): Update and Secure Your Passwords

Online Safety and Security -- Lastpass Security Challenge

You probably don’t update your passwords nearly as often as you should. If you wait for your service provider to issue a message imploring you to change, that’s already waiting too long. More importantly, since password leaks happen so commonly Password Leaks Are Happening Now: Here's How to Protect Yourself Password leaks happen all the time, and there's a chance one of your accounts will be involved, if it hasn't happened already. So what can you do to keep your accounts safe? Read More these days, you need to make them more secure as well.

The LastPass Security Challenge is the perfect exercise Master Your Passwords For Good With Lastpass' Security Challenge We spend so much time online, with so many accounts, that remembering passwords can be really tough. Concerned about the risks? Find out how to use LastPass' Security Challenge to improve your security hygiene. Read More to get this done. You’ll need to use LastPass, the fantastic password manager, as an extension on your favorite browser. Go to Menu > More Options > Security Challenge to begin.

There are four basic steps to the challenge. You first change any compromised passwords. Then you change your weak passwords. Then you change your reused passwords. And finally you change your old passwords. It seems like a lot, but doing it through the LastPass extension, it took me about five minutes to finish the whole thing.

DownloadLastPass extension for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Opera

3. Two Factor Auth (Web): As Essential as Passwords in the 21st Century

Online Safety and Security -- Two Factor Auth

Everyone has told you this but you still haven’t done it, have you? Two factor authentication (2FA) is the safest online security lock What Is Two-Factor Authentication, And Why You Should Use It Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security method that requires two different ways of proving your identity. It is commonly used in everyday life. For example paying with a credit card not only requires the card,... Read More right now. Yet, most people don’t use it. It’s time to change that. And Two Factor Auth is the website to do it from.

The site lists all the websites that support 2FA. You can browse them by category, or use the search bar. It displays each site’s method for the secondary password token — through SMS, email, phone calls, or other apps. Click the site’s name to be taken directly to enable 2FA.

Yes, even two-factor authentication can be hacked Two-Factor Authentication Hacked: Why You Shouldn't Panic Read More , but that doesn’t mean it’s useless. It’s a major stumbling block for hackers. If you secure yourself with the LastPass Security Challenge and then enable 2FA, you’ll be unimaginably more secure.

4. VirusTotal (Web, Chrome, Firefox, internet Explorer): Scan Any File Before You Download

Online Safety and Security -- VirusTotal

The easiest entry point you can give hackers is to download a malicious file to your computer. Once it’s on your hard drive, several barriers of protection have already been broken. An oldie but a goodie, VirusTotal’s job is to stop that.

Before you download any file on the internet, run it through VirusTotal. You can upload files to it (up to 128 MB), share a direct URL, or even search through VirusTotal. The site will will thoroughly scan your link or file and make sure it is completely safe before you download it. No wonder it’s one of the best antivirus tools for browsers 7 Free Antivirus Tools for Your Browser: Scan Links Before You Click Viruses, malware, phished websites. Online mousetraps are lying in wait for some poor sucker to click on, so their computer can be added to the collection of zombie computers spewing out spam. Read More .

The site works flawlessly, but you should obviously install the VirusTotal extension since it’s a lot easier than visiting the site. Importantly, there’s a VirusTotal extension for internet Explorer too, which most other such services don’t support.

DownloadVirusTotal Extension for Firefox, Chrome, or IE (Free)

5. Stay Safe Online (Web): Learn All About Online Best Practices

Online Safety and Security -- Stay Safe Online

A big part of online safety is staying updated about new threats. The more aware you are, the better protected you are. The Stay Safe Online organization is one of the parties involved in NCSAM. Here, you can learn everything you need to about online safety practices, whether you’re an individual or a business. Plus, it also has resources to enable you to reach out to others and help them.

From kids and the inherent risks of sexting How to Talk to Kids About Sexting (According to Experts) Sexting is a growing problem among teenagers. But how do you broach the subject? What information should a parent convey to their kid? Here's the best advice from experts. Read More to free security check-ups and tools to consider your business’s risks, you’ll get it all here. Stay Safe Online is regularly updated with new major vulnerabilities and online scams to watch out for.

This is one site you’ll want to check to stay on top of security news.

How Safe Are You?

It’s surprising how many people ignore these basics of securing yourself online. When you’re vigilant about double-locking your doors at night, why won’t you double-lock your email with two-factor authentication? It boggles the mind.

How well did you score on this test? Have you already taken all five of the first steps to online safety?

Related topics: Antivirus, Computer Security, Cool Web Apps, Two-Factor Authentication.

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  1. ReadandShare
    October 27, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Check on 4 of 5 steps. I DO NOT use 2FA. Here's my concern.

    I travel extensively abroad, often for months at a time. Say I get mugged, losing my backpack, wallet and phone. Without 2FA, I can access my email and accounts online and start cancelling cards, etc.

    But with 2FA, just accessing my email and accounts becomes huge hassles! Just the thing I don't need under the circumstance.

  2. dragonmouth
    October 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    "a joint effort between the U.S. government, industries, and security-centric organizations"
    You mean like Yahoo reading emails for the NSA?