Protect Information when using the Internet and Email

How might I be putting information at risk when using the Internet?

  • Privacy on the Internet is a growing concern, especially as more and more people are using it for professional and personal business, socializing, and entertainment.
  • Just opening a malicious web page or attachment can infect a computer. Make sure you know where you’re going before clicking on a link or opening something.
  • Information sent over the internet or by email is not necessarily secure.
  • Information that you post online may be more public than you think.
  • See “Beware of Scams” for additional information about protecting yourself

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What should you do?

Protecting Privacy

  • Don’t give private information to anyone you don’t know or who doesn’t have a legitimate need for it. 
  • Don’t provide personal, sensitive, or confidential information online unless you are using a trusted, secure web page.
    • At a minimum, look for “https” in the URL to indicate that there is a secure connection.
    • Get to web sites by typing the web address indirectly. Don’t click or cut and paste links in unsolicited emails.
    • Remember that links and web sites that look legitimate can really be bogus sites designed to steal information or infect your computer.
  • Don’t put sensitive information in locations that are accessible from the Internet. Even unlinked web pages can be found.

Use Secure Encrypted Networks

Be especially careful about what you do over wireless. Information and passwords sent via standard, unencrypted wireless are especially easy for hackers to intercept (most public-access wireless, including UCSC-Guest, is unencrypted).

Only use known, encrypted wireless networks when working with sensitive information.

Protecting Information in Email and IM/Texts

Never assume that email, instant messages (IM), texts, or attachments are private or confidential. Don't send P3-P4 data or sensitive information via email or instant message (IM). These are not secure methods of communication. If you receive P3-P4 data via email, keep it for the shortest amount of time possible and delete it securely. This includes attachments.

  • Avoid sending attachments. Use Google Drive links instead. This avoids the data being downloaded by the recipients.
  • Use the “Bcc” (blind carbon copy) line for large numbers of recipients. This protects the email addresses of the recipients by hiding them and makes your email easier to read.
  • Delete email and attachments when you no longer need them. Emails containing sensitive information should be deleted securely. See SlugHub KB0016804 for more info.

Social Networking and Blogs

Social networking sites (such as Facebook and Twitter), personal web pages, and blogs are notorious as public sources of personal information and uncensored opinions.

  • Do not reveal personal details or confidential info online. Assume that anything you post to these websites is public and could potentially be used against you.
    •  A good rule of thumb is to only post information you would be willing to put on a banner displayed in a public place. 
    • Seemingly innocent information about your interests, family, or history could be used by hackers for identity theft, or by stalkers or social engineers.
  • Also keep in mind that once you post something online, it can be very difficult to “take it back.” Even if you delete the information, copies can still exist on other computers, web sites, or in search engines.

Be extremely careful with file-sharing software (BitTorrent, Limewire, etc.). Improperly configured filesharing software can allow others access to your entire computer, not just to the files you intend to share. Filesharing also opens your computer to the risk of malicious files and attackers. Also, if you share copyrighted files, you risk being disconnected from the campus network, as well as serious legal consequences.

Security and Privacy in Google

Information available at Google Apps Security.

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