The Risks of Online Gaming & How to Stay Safe

Whether you’re an all-out “gamer” or simply enjoy a few hands of online poker every now and then, all that online gaming fun comes with its own set of risks.

WThe risks of online gaminghen we turn to the internet for gaming entertainment often the last think we think about (or want to think about) is the fact that we’re opening ourselves up to potentially be the victim of scams, identity theft or viruses.

If you spend any time gaming, then take a few minutes to read through the risks below and how to avoid them!

The Risks…

  • Large, online gaming communities may feel “friendly” but the truth is, you’re surrounded by strangers, which means you could unthinkingly share too much personal info like your full name, email address, age or even online passwords.
  • When you download “cheats” you could actually be downloading corrupt software that contains viruses.
  • Illegally downloading games could lead to severe penalties or even prosecution.
  • Getting rid of old game consoles, computers, mobile devices, etc. that still contain your personal info can put you at risk of identity theft.

Ok, now that you recognize some of the risks of online gaming, let’s go over how to protect yourself so you can keep on gaming without the worry.

How to Stay Safe…

  • Make sure you have updated antivirus software.
  • Only play authorized, legitimate versions of games that you have obtained/purchased legally and from the proper sources.
  • Choose a secure username that does not reveal personal info.
  • Create strong and long passwords.
  • Never share personal info with other players.
  • Keep your game software up-to-date.
  • Delete all personal info before disposing of or selling unwanted gaming devices.
  • Establish rules and guidelines for your children when they’re playing online (and model good behavior)!

To protect yourself even further, consider setting up a VPN so that you can mask your location and identity and never worry about online gaming hazards again! For more information about getting a Virtual Private Network, click HERE.

 

Risks & safety measures inspired by this post on GetSafeOnline.org.

4 Less-Common Mistakes You’re Making Online That Are Putting You At Risk

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.29.47 AMWe all know that we shouldn’t use the same password for all our accounts or share our login information with others, but so much of our lives nowadays are spent online that it’s easy to develop some other bad habits that may be putting you at risk.

Everything we do, say or post online has the potential of being seen by hundreds if not thousands of people, and while the majority of those eyes are likely harmless, if your personal info gets in front of the wrong person, it could cost you your privacy, money and countless headaches.

Below are 4 less-common mistakes that you may be making online that are putting you at risk.

1. Saving your personal information

Many sites, such as online stores, credit cards and even banking sites, give you the option of saving your personal information for quicker login, transactions or purchases. But, despite the added convenience, anytime you save your personal data online you’re putting yourself at risk. Instead of saving your login information and maybe even your credit card number, opt to enter it yourself each time. Sure, it takes a few extra minutes, but it could save you thousands in fraudulent charges!

2. Using public Wi-Fi

Sure, it’s convenient and seems harmless enough, but any time you use public Wi-Fi you’re opening yourself up to potential hacking. Instead of compromising your personal data, avoid banking, accessing your credit cards or shopping online while connected to a public network.

3. Using your debit card for online purchases

When you use your debit card, you’re giving hackers access to your personal bank account. Instead of opening yourself up to the headache of trying to recoup your money after an online breach, protect yourself my designating one credit card with a low-limit for all your online purchases. That way, if it becomes compromised, you know exactly where to look and can easily remedy the issue.

4. Clicking links in emails

You should never, ever click a link or open an attachment in an email from an unknown or suspicious sender. Malicious links and downloads find their way into our inboxes all the time, but if you’re alert, you won’t become a victim of whatever virus is being spread. However, sometimes these links can even come from familiar email addresses, but that doesn’t mean they should be trusted. If you suspect a link might put you at risk, don’t open it — even if it came from a friend. Instead, respond to the email and ask if they truly meant to send it.

To further protect your data, personal info and privacy, consider using a VPN service. For more information about how a VPN can protect you online, visit www.GhostPath.com.

 

How Safety Savvy Are You Online? Take The Quiz To Find Out!

Few of us go a day (or more likely a few hours!) without going online, whether it be to check our email, do research for work, look-up a funny YouTube clip, peruse our social media accounts, or simply pass the time.

But, with so much time spent in cyberspace, we’re also putting ourselves at risk for hacking, identity theft and scams.

If you’re wondering how online safety savvy you are and if you’re putting yourself at risk, take this fun, 6-question quiz to find out.

Want to boost your online safety?

Sign-up for GhostPath’s VPN service & enjoy a 7-day money back guarantee!

Cybercrime Report: Are You A Target?

The Internet and computers have become an integral part of our everyday lives.

We wake to our smartphone alarm clock, check our emails over breakfast on our tablet, and settle in at our work desks in front of our computers to conduct the morning’s to-dos…and that’s all before 10am.

Yet, despite the convenience of all this modern technology, it also means that cybercrimes like hacking and identify theft are on the rise.

Norton released their report on cybercrime in 2013, and the data is quite compelling.

First off, though, let’s give a little context as to the depth of this report. Norton collected data from over 13,000 online adults ages 18-64 from 24 different countries.

Below are a few key factors that we found particularly interesting from Norton’s report:

  • 64% of cybercrime victims are male.
  • 66% are millennials (as compared to baby boomers).
  • Common theme noticed in victims: Almost 1/2 of victims don’t use basic precautions like passwords or security software.
  • Among smartphone users, 38% have been a victim of mobile cybercrime in the last year.
  • There are 378 victims per year, which is more than 1 million per day, which translates to 12 victims per second.
  • Risky behavior: 39% of social media users don’t log-out after a session, 25% share their passwords with family & friends, and 31% connect with people they don’t know.

Check out the entire report below:


The Norton Report 2013 

Protect yourself & your data.

Sign-up for a VPN service and never worry again! Register now, and get our 7-day money back guarantee.

10 Simple Ways To Protect Your Identity Online

10 Ways to Protect Your Identity Online

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world; due, in large part, to the dramatic increase in online shopping and sharing over the last 10 years. Today’s online world requires you to be proactive in ensuring that your identity online remains safe at all times. In this post, we’ll give you 10 easy and practical ways that can help you stay safe in an online world and protect your identity online.

1. Double-check Your Social Media Account and Privacy Settings

Most of us use Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites at least once a day. Social media can be a great way of keeping in touch with people who are close to you without having to remember their email addresses or writing long-winded messages to them. However, with this convenience comes the danger of having your login details or name stolen by bad guys.

Facebook accounts come with preset privacy and account (and ever-changing) settings. You should regularly assess these settings and change them to lock down your posts and photo albums, as well as change your password at least once a month. This will ensure that you’re able to keep tabs on who can see your posts, personal info, etc. and who can comment on your statuses and photos, effectively keeping away malicious identity thieves. Also, be sure to not accept friend requests from people you don’t know.

2. Have a Primary and Secondary Email

Most people don’t think twice when it comes to signing up for various offers using their emails. The problem with this is that some of these offers may come from websites or addresses that are part of phishing scams that target people’s email inboxes.

One countermeasure is to have a secondary email that you can use to sign up for various offers without handing over your primary email address. It’s a good idea to use fake names for your secondary email addresses, to increase privacy even further.

3. Set Strong Passwords

Identity thieves are good at both guessing passwords and cracking passwords. If you don’t give a second thought when it comes to the complexity of your passwords you may fall victim to identity theft.

It’s almost instinctual for people to choose passwords that are easy to remember, like birthdays, the names of children, siblings, significant others, or numerical figures that are sequential. These are far too weak now. It’s not 1995 anymore.

The best practice is to use a combination of letters and numbers, with some capitalization and special characters thrown in.

4. Clear Your Browser Cookies

Cookies are small files that get embedded in your browser which may track your movement online for marketing purposes. Many websites now ask for your permission to store cookies in your browser.

However, some websites don’t alert you, making it possible for your computer to send information back to identity thieves or other malicious parties. You might also fall victim to irritating popup ads and unsolicited emails as a result of these cookies being embedded in your browser.

Cookies are not inherently evil, and they definitely have their legitimate uses, but clearing them regularly is recommended.

5. Do Not Reveal Personal Information to Acquaintances

The internet has made it convenient and easier for us to connect with each other for either personal or business purposes. As a result, many people let their guard down and aren’t careful enough when it comes to giving out their contact information.

One great example would be people using dating sites to meet other people. Even after chatting with someone for extended periods of time, you might want to hold off giving them your telephone number. If you’ve planned to meet this person, make sure that you do it in a public place and make sure to tell at least two friends where you’re going so you can have an easy exit in case things don’t go exactly as you planned.

A great way to safeguard your identity in this instance would be to use a disposable email address while communicating with someone on a long-term basis online.

6. Use a Top Tier VPN Service Like Ghost Path

A VPN is a virtual private network that helps you protect your identity online by passing your data through an encrypted tunnel, ensuring that all of your information is kept away from prying eyes.

A VPN is also crucial when signing up for new services and using online banking services. If you login to online banking while using the free WiFi at your local cafe then you’re putting your bank account at risk. You never know when someone is on that same network using software to intercept your information as you send it.

With a quality VPN, like Ghost Path, you get the assurance that your data is encrypted. Nearly all devices that connect to the internet can use a VPN, so you should be able to effectively shield your information at all times. You can signup for a 7 day free trial for Ghost Path.

7. Don’t Reply to Spammers

We all get emails or messages via social media that look legit. These messages are usually sent by spammers that simply want your information for malicious reasons. One way of identifying a suspicious message is by keeping a note of where the email came from and the details it contains.

Protip: Unfortunately, there aren’t that many attractive girls looking to connect with you. Twitter and Facebook messages from accounts with “hot girl” profile pics are always a dead giveaway.

Delete spam emails immediately without opening them as they may contain scripts or viruses that may track your keystrokes in the hopes of stealing your passwords and other sensitive information.

8. Use Robust Antivirus Software

Never go online without having modern, up-to-date antivirus software. You’ll be exposing your computer and your documents to viruses that may make it possible for people to control your computer or device remotely, giving them access to everything on the device.

9. Check Websites for Seals, Certificates and Policies

Secure websites come with SSL certificates that you can verify by clicking on the space before the web address. These certificates are usually published by a trusted service and are valid for years at a time. Take time to inspect these certificates to ensure that they are valid and up-to-date.

At the same time, you can ensure that you are accessing the website securely by looking for an ‘s’ after the ‘http’ prefix. Lastly, secure websites have a padlock before the address or a green address bard, depending on the browser. These are cues signifying that your data and connection with the website are safe.

10. Offline Tip – Shred Important Documents

Whether you’re at home or work, it’s vitally important to shred documents. Credit card offers, bills, personal letters, etc. should all be shredded when you’re done using them. Pulling personal information out of the garbage is still one of the most common ways for your identity to be stolen.

Conclusion

Several of these tips may seem like common sense, but that’s not the case for everyone. It’s important for everyone to go back to basics with security from time to time, just to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to protect your identity.

What online security tips do you have? How do you stay safe online and protect your identity online?

Ghost Path Proposes a “National Password Day”

National Password Day

We have days throughout the year commemorating everything from doughnuts to the color purple, but we don’t have a day for one of the most important aspects of modern life. We need a “National Password Day” to remind everyone of the importance of routinely changing your passwords.

The Plan

May 20th is the day that we’ve chosen. Every year on May 20th (starting in 2014, most likely) social media will be blanketed with reminders to change passwords for the services you use most (email, Facebook, etc.). The goal is for major media outlets to start covering the movement and spreading the word to mainstream internet users, who are the users that likely need the most advice for protecting themselves online.

Why You Should Change Your Password Frequently

Usernames, email addresses, and passwords are the keys to your digital life. Someone stealing, guessing, or hacking your password can lead to serious financial consequences and identity theft. Changing your passwords frequently can help keep you vigilant. Also, changing passwords frequently requires you to get creative with your password choices, which is good thing. A weak password is like a door left unlocked… it doesn’t really provide much protection.

How To Choose A Strong Password

What type of password you can choose depends greatly on the service that you’re using. Not every website allows special characters and they all have different length requirements. Keeping that in mind here are a few suggestions:

  • Always mix uppercase and lowercase letters. However, don’t do it obviously. Something like “eaTmoreSteak” is better than “EatMoreSteak”. 
  • Always add numeric characters whenever possible. Again, don’t do it obviously. Think “eaTmore4Steak” instead of “eaTmoreSteak4”.
  • Special characters are your friend. If they are allowed then use them to replace common characters. My favorites are @, !, and _. “e@Tmore4Steak!” is a winner of a password.
  • An outside the box suggestion is to use three or more dictionary words. If spaces are allowed then you can build secure, easy to remember passwords. “eat more steak” is nearly as secure as “e@Tmore4Steak!”, but has the added benefit of being quite easy to remember.

Of course, you should never use your birthday, address, name, pet’s name, mother’s maiden name, anniversary date, etc. as your password. These are far too easy and offer no protection at all.

Help Us Promote National Password Day

We need your help to make National Password Day a reality. Leave a comment below if you believe that having a National Password Day is a good idea. We need to be able to show the level of interest on our application.

We’ve also created a shareable image that you’re free to use.

National Password Day icon

Inside the Mind of a Hacker

Many people think hackers are merely people who find a way to break into some company’s servers and steal their data. There are also hackers who simply want to get into your bank account and drain all the money you have. Or perhaps they find out your credit card information and go on a shopping spree. Often, though, hackers are after way more than just your money. Read more

Protect Yourself from Online Identity Theft

Public wifi identy theft

With Cyber Monday bringing in record sales for online companies, it was shocking to see just how many of those customers were using public wifi (a wireless connection without the protection of a password). Unbound Commerce reported that total revenue generated by retailers utilizing Unbound’s integrated mcommerce platform surged 410% on Cyber Monday. Suggesting that those numbers were purchases from smart phones, most people are blissfully unaware of the amount of hacking that is done through public wifi. We now live in a world where it is all too easy for hackers to track cookies of any given user to see email correspondence, Facebook passwords, and yes, bill pay logins, ultimately resulting to identity theft. Read more