The Internet is an important and unavoidable destination that most people visit one or more times a day. Whether using a home computer with a built-in camera, a smartphone, or a tablet, there are more ways and reasons than ever to go online. From the Internet, you can contact almost anyone or access nearly anything. Unfortunately, there are also more real risks than ever. Regardless of whether they are other teens or adults, cybercriminals can damage your devices, steal, terrorize you, and even harm you. Fortunately, there are ways to boost your online security and stay safe online. For your safety and the protection of your personal data and devices, it’s important to first understand the language that’s typically associated with online safety.
Adware: A code or program that installs unsolicited ads on computers
Antivirus: Software that is designed to prevent malware from harming a computer. Its functions typically include checking all executable files for signs of malware infection and scanning the computer’s file system for potentially infected files.
Bot: A malicious program, or malware, that installs itself onto a computer without permission. Bots connect to a central server and can steal data such as passwords or financial information from a computer, log keystrokes, induce the computer to interfere with the normal operation of other networks, or send spam.
Cyberbullies: Bullies who attack their victims on the Internet are called cyberbullies. Their methods include stalking, threats, personal attacks and name-calling, betraying a victim’s sensitive and embarrassing information to the public for the purposes of ridicule, and defamation of character, including maliciously false accusations.
Cybercrime: Any activity that is a violation of the law and is carried out using computers and the Internet
Cyberstalking: The act of tracking, harassing, or otherwise stalking a person online
Firewall: Security software or hardware that serves as a protective shield for a computer or network. Its purpose is to filter all incoming and outgoing data to prevent malware or malicious information from entering the system and prevent the unauthorized distribution of information outside of the system.
Griefing: Bullying or harassment of players while playing online games
Hacker: A person who uses a computer or other online device to gain unauthorized access to data and/or control of computer systems or digital devices
Identity theft: A crime in which a person’s private and vital information, such as their banking information or Social Security number, is stolen and used, typically for financial gain. Viruses, online scams, and spyware are all common methods used in identity theft.
Malware: Programs created to compromise the security of a computer or network. Malware comes in many forms, including adware, browser-hijacking code, spyware, and worms. Malware can damage or delete important files or copy sensitive data, including passwords, Social Security numbers, and other personal information, and distribute it to unauthorized recipients.
Monitoring software: Software that enables parents to monitor their child’s Internet use, including emails and websites visited
Password: A secret code that a user must know in order to prove their identity and log into a network or system. It usually accompanies a username. Passwords are very important, as they are necessary for access to most computers and networks.
Pharming: The redirection of users from a legitimate site to a fake one that looks real, where scammers steal personal information
Phishing: A form of cybercrime that uses Internet-based or other electronic communications to fraudulently acquire personal information from a person. It involves tricking the intended victim into giving away critical details about their identity, account passwords, or access to financial assets, among other forms of sensitive information. Typical examples of phishing include scam emails, phone calls, or IMs or using fake websites to trick people into submitting vital information. Phishing is a form of social engineering.
Ransomware: A form of malware that makes your data unavailable until you pay a ransom to regain access
Scareware: Malware meant to scare computer users into purchasing and downloading dangerous software
Security software: Software such as antivirus and firewall programs that protects computers and their data against online threats
Sexting: Sending and receiving sexually explicit messages, images, and/or videos using digital devices. Sexting is common among tweens and teens but can be very dangerous to your future reputation.
Spam: Unsolicited email that is intended to sell something to the recipient or scam them
Spyware: Software that’s installed on a person’s computer without their consent or knowledge. Once installed, it gathers or tracks information on how the computer is used, then sends it back to the cybercriminal who created it.
Social Engineering: A method of psychological manipulation by which the perpetrator convinces someone to do something, often giving away important information that compromises security in some way. Examples include phishing, leaving malware-infected USB drives around for curious people to insert into their computers (baiting), and tricking businesses into divulging customer information (pretexting), which is a tool often used by private investigators as well as cybercriminals.
Trojan: A form of malware that pretends to be something benign and useful in order to access sensitive files and information, install spyware, or otherwise make a computer vulnerable to hackers
Virus: A self-replicating program that spreads from one computer to another, compromising the security of each one that it infects
Vulnerability: A flaw in a system that leaves it susceptible to infection or exploitation by hackers
Additional Resources for Staying Safe Online
General Internet Safety
Medieval castles were built to be much more than a mere home for a family. These castles were fortresses designed to protect the inhabitants from enemies. Medieval castles were built with huge stone walls, towers, moats, and other features designed to offer maximum protection. Security features are easy to understand in some cases, while others are more unique with less obvious purposes. Medieval castles may have been one of the first security systems, built during an age when lords and ladies couldn’t just touch a button on an alarm panel to call for help.
Outer Curtain Wall: The curtain wall was the outermost line of defense for a medieval castle. Made out of a huge stone core and surrounded by rubble, the curtain wall was tall enough and strong enough to withstand projectiles and battering rams.
Machicolations: Castle machicolations were also sometimes known as “murder holes.” These defense features were small balconies built high on the outer castle walls. The balconies had holes in the floors, through which defenders could throw objects down onto attackers below. Sometimes, rocks or heavy stones were thrown, but defenders might also have hurled other things, such as boiling water or even animal dung.
The Moat: The moat was the body of water surrounding the castle, serving as a barrier to keep people from crossing and entering the fortress. The moat also prevented would-be intruders from digging tunnels under the castle walls to enter, since any tunnels dug would likely quickly fill with water.
The Drawbridge: The drawbridge spanned the moat, providing access to the castle. To protect a castle under siege, the occupants would raise the drawbridge to prevent attackers from crossing over the moat. A drawbridge could be as simple as a wooden plank, or it might have been an intricate system with counterweights.
The Main Gate: The main gate usually served as a death trap for intruders. The main gate would lead into an outer courtyard with another gate at the opposite end. After they entered the courtyard through the outer main gate, an iron portcullis would lower to trap attackers. The wall surrounding the courtyard would have small holes through which archers would fire arrows at intruders.
The Barbican: The barbican was an extension built onto the gatehouse that housed the main gate. The barbican featured a series of traps, machicolations, and arrow slits, to slow down intruders. Intruders were forced to navigate a barbican via a narrow path that had a number of sharp turns. The sharp turns were part of the design to give archers a series of vantage points to shoot the intruders.
Turrets and Towers: Castle turrets and towers were built to provide lookout points to see oncoming attackers before they arrived. Turrets were very tall, and the towers were circular in shape. The absence of corners made it easier to see in all directions, and the circular towers were more difficult to bring down.
Secret Passageways: Secret passageways were common in medieval castles. Some passageways provided castle inhabitants with a means of escaping the castle via underground tunnels. The passageways also made it possible to get supplies into the castle. Secret passageways also provided access to secret chambers for hiding or accessing supplies.
Concentric Circles of Defense: These circles of defense were actually a series of obstacles that originated outside the castle walls. As intruders progressed into a castle, they would encounter a series of obstacles that they would have to overcome to keep moving in toward the center of the castle. Each obstacle presented dangers, and intruders would need to take time and expend energy making their way through them to keep going.
It’s become such a frequent problem that the news coverage of these events has fundamentally changed, with the Columbine massacre getting months of press and current events hardly drawing notice. Recent school shootings in America often get a fraction of Columbine’s coverage. Some, like the Santa Fe shooting, which had ten fatalities, have gotten less attention due to the fact that other shootings, like the Parkland shooting, which had 17 fatalities, dwarf them by their numbers. Both of those shootings happened just last year.
Are we numb to it all? How many school shootings have there been since Columbine, and how many of them have escaped our notice?
Setting politics, gun rights, media blame, and coverage analyses aside, let’s look at the history of school shootings along one mass shooting timeline to get a better idea of the scale of the problem. We’ve compiled a list of school shootings since Columbine to help
How Many School Shootings Since Columbine Have There Been?
There have been 229 U.S. school shootings since 1999’s Columbine massacre, not including misfires or instances in which a shooter was stopped before inflicting deaths or injuries.
Here are some of the latest school shooting statistics:
231: The number of school shootings since Columbine, not including misfires and stopped attempts
304: The number of fatalities (including perpetrators) resulting from on-campus shootings since Columbine
485: The total number of injuries resulting from on-campus shootings since Columbine
35: The number of mass school shootings in 2018 alone
10: The number of school shootings that have happened at elementary schools since 1999
6: The number of severely violent school shootings that reached a total death count of more than 10 people since Columbine
In terms of fatalities, the worst school shootings in America are the Virginia Tech massacre; the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, victims of which included 20 young children; the emotional Parkland, Florida, shooting that prompted a quick wave of advocacy; the Red Lake shooting; the Santa Fe High School shooting; and the Umpqua Community College shooting. Three of them happened in the past five years. Before Columbine, there was also the University of Texas shooting, which resulted in 18 fatalities but was widely regarded as one sniper gone awry.
We have seen an increase in the number of fatalities, a rising ceiling of shock, for these events. About 10 years ago, the Virginia Tech shooting became the deadliest mass shooting in America of any kind. That title has since between dwarfed by the Las Vegas shooting and the Orlando nightclub shooting, both of which thankfully happened outside of schools. These attacks are unnerving due to the fact that they are so recent and so bloody, showing the potential for damage unthinkable in a school setting. But these events have watered down our reactions; where Columbine led to a shocking 15 deaths, Las Vegas led to an unimaginable 59.
There’s a catch to how we look at the data about school shootings; if we focus solely on major school shootings by year or only on a list of school massacres resulting in a higher number of deaths, we miss the bigger picture. We miss the thwarted attempts, the one-off murders, and the high frequency of smaller events between the massacres with increasingly higher death counts. We miss situations like the school attack in East Greenbush, New York, which only resulted in one injury but had the potential to kill many more. That attack was thwarted. The student perpetrator has since gone on to praise both Parkland student activists and the teacher who tackled him to the ground, saying he is “a hero who I owe my life to.” That was a near-miss that could have been much worse, but those near-misses also need to be a part of the conversation about guns and schools.
Our list of school shootings in the United States should hopefully leave an impression of just how many small events resulting in unnecessary deaths have happened with very little notice, not just the events that gain Columbine-like national attention. Regardless of how it happens, hopefully the list of school shootings in America will show a decrease in fatalities over time.
As Internet Technology Program Manager at the Internet Society, Steve Olshansky primarily works on advancing federated identity, access management and cybersecurity technology and policy. He has over 20 years of experience working in the cybersecurity business, and the best part? He’s the newest member of Security Baron’s Expert Network, responsible for making sure our VPN reviews are 100% technologically sound. In this interview, I asked Steve about VPNs, his career, and cybersecurity in general.
1. When do you think VPNs are necessary? Are most VPNs worth using?
VPNs are always a good idea, even at home or work to prevent your ISP or employer from being able to see your DNS queries and traffic (unless otherwise required by workplace legal compliance issues). But VPNs are especially important when you are in network environments outside your control, such as airports, airplanes, coffeeshops, or any other public Wi-Fi. It is relatively trivial for criminals to snoop your traffic in these open environments, or to masquerade as a legitimate Wi-Fi network and perform various attacks on you and your personal information.
However we need to be cautious about *which* VPN we use since there are significant differences between them. You are entrusting them with access to your Internet traffic, since they control the “pipe” and the endpoints through which it flows. They can monitor your DNS queries and traffic, and keep logs that could be sold or shared. And it is important to keep in mind that these are not charities, they are making money somehow. If they are providing the VPN service at no monetary cost to users, they are likely monetizing your data to generate revenue, similar to many “free” social networks.
It is important to read and understand the Terms of Service (ToS) and Privacy Policies, including and especially all of the fine print. But even that is not sufficient since there is no guarantee they are following their published policies. There are a number of credible VPN evaluation and comparison websites available, and you must do your homework if you care about the security and privacy of your data.
2. What qualities do you look for in a VPN?
No user logs maintained, based in jurisdictions outside of oppressive regimes or countries with a known history of abusing privacy protections, transparency in their operations and policies, good ratings from independent and credible VPN evaluation sites…who dig into the details, user-friendly interface, good customer service, use of a known secure communications protocol such as OpenVPN or L2TP/IPsec, a large number of servers distributed around the world, and the ability to pay anonymously through gift cards.
3. You’ve worked in cybersecurity since the mid-90s. What are the biggest changes in approaches that you’ve seen?
It is disheartening to see some users just give up on privacy and security, on the assumption that the battle is lost and it is not worth the time and energy required to educate yourself to make good choices. The Internet and the various services it supports has become much more complex and difficult to secure, and fundamentally the protocols upon which it relies were not designed for such large and untrustworthy environments, requiring a great deal of effort to retrofit security and privacy protections.
Cybercrime has exploded, and the ongoing “arms race” with law enforcement and national security agencies has become much more challenging. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of naive people who will set aside disbelief and fall for common and obvious scams. Continuing battles against efforts to weaken encryption, by well meaning but ill-informed policymakers, and law enforcement and national security agencies, and their ongoing disregard for the advice of well-known and highly credible experts offering solid advice as to why there is no such thing as a secure back door (as one frequent example),
or failing to understand that fundamentally the laws of mathematics cannot be ignored. 2+2 will always equal 4, no matter how motivated some may be to dispute that. Weakening encryption hurts us all, including law enforcement and national security agencies. Frequent focus on securing data in transit, which is undoubtedly important, but coupled with a disregard for the security of data at rest, where in many cases it is more vulnerable and an easier target.
4. Tell us how you got started in your career.
When I was in grad school working on my MS in Telecommunications in the mid-90s, the Web was just catching fire and people were looking at new innovations running on the Internet infrastructure. It was immediately clear to me that this would be the wave of the future as a platform supporting many applications, and a complex, fascinating, ever-evolving, and multifaceted one at that. At the time I was particularly focused on the use of the Web for collaboration in contrast to tools like Lotus Notes which was dominant at the time. I remain very interested in the collaboration aspects, which like the Web have grown into dimensions not even conceived of at that time.
5. What is it about cybersecurity and telecommunications that initially interested you?
It is the ongoing intellectual challenges inherent in this arena, and the opportunity to work with many brilliant and fascinating people in many areas. Security and telecom will never be “solved” or “finished,” and it is this dynamic that I find particularly appealing.
6. What do you wish more people knew about keeping themselves safe online?
Trust is a difficult thing to achieve in today’s complex online environment, and requires ongoing effort on all of our parts to stay informed and to take affirmative actions to protect ourselves and our data. And we all have an obligation to the Internet at large, as good “netizens,” to ensure that our actions don’t adversely impact the critical infrastructure of the Internet, which we all benefit from and which many take for granted. An example of this is that failing to adequately secure devices under your control not only poses a direct threat to you and your family, but also means that they could be compromised and used in a botnet to attack others – sometimes without you even being aware this is happening.
Peter Galvin is the Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at nCipher Security, as well as an expert on Security Baron’s expert network. Security Baron spoke with Peter and asked him the burning questions we had about VPNs, password managers, and cyber security in general.
When do you think VPNs and password managers are necessary for the average consumer? Are most VPNs worth using?
As consumers increasingly utilize online sites for activities like banking or those that require personal information (like birthdates, social security numbers, etc.) password managers are helpful for maintaining good password hygiene. By using password managers, consumers can get have more complex passwords and potentially rotate those passwords more often for another layer of protection. VPNs are particularly helpful if a consumer is using public Wi-Fi networks to access sensitive applications, such as those related to business and finance. They’re also a critical tool for citizens living in countries that block or ban sites for political reasons, since a VPN allows them to access neutral news sources without revealing their identities.
What qualities do you look for in a VPN? Password manager?
VPNs should leverage strong encryption and have entry points that are near your location or location(s). Those wanting to use VPNs to access blocked information should look for options that allow them to do so. Consumers should also look for VPNs that, unless expressly permitted, do not log data or retain personal information.
Password managers should be simple to use and integrate. Consumers can also prioritize those that offer advanced features – such as multi-factor authentication – if they want an additional layer of security.
What do you wish more people knew about cybersecurity?
That it is not that hard to keep yourself safe online. A little bit of education, leveraging encryption when it is available and using good password hygiene coupled with multifactor authentication will go a very long way.
You’ve worked in cybersecurity for the past few years. What initially attracted you to this space and what have you learned about cybersecurity since that you think is most important?
I have always loved technology and I think the best part about our industry is its constantly changing nature. What originally attracted me to security was the (now debunked) view that “breaking” into someone’s “digital life” was somehow different than breaking into their house or their “physical” life. As we know now, the two conduits are comparable. If consumers lose their digital assets – like their social security number or medical information – it can be incredibly harmful. So I was drawn to cybersecurity as a means to help protect people from malicious activities.
What products and services from nCipher Security are you most proud of, and how do these products and services come to be?
nCipher and the internet have a very long and similar history. One of the first methods for secure internet connections was SSL (still used to today but upgraded to TLS) to protect the connection from a browser to a server. nCipher made one of the first SSL acceleration cards, providing SSL security but at the speed that the internet needed. nCipher’s founders were also visionaries in that they saw the need for strong cryptographic solutions to protect data and applications – and met that need with general purpose hardware security modules (HSMs). While nCipher’s products have changed over the years, the core foundation of strong cryptography and key management is as important as ever. nCipher products are part of the underlying security infrastructure that allows consumers to buy tickets on line, use a mobile app for services, pay for a coffee using their mobile phone or even use their hotel app to open the door to their rooms, ensuring trust and integrity in their everyday lives.
Dr. Henry Carter is an Assistant Professor of Computing Sciences at Villanova University focusing on cryptography and mobile applications. He’s also a member of Security Baron’s Expert Network, making sure our VPN and password manager reviews are technologically accurate. Security Baron talked to Dr. Carter and asked him our important questions about VPNs, cybersecurity, and his research in general.
When do you think VPNs are necessary? Are most VPNs worth using?
VPNs are especially useful when you need to do a significant amount of work on an untrusted network. If you are only accessing a few webpages on an open Wifi network, using a browser plugin like HTTPS Everywhere may be enough to ensure your traffic is encrypted. However, if you need to use a variety of networked programs (e.g., email clients or other programs synchronizing data over the Internet), it is safer to use a VPN. In addition, accessing sensitive network resources on a corporate network should be done using a VPN, as liability for a breach may fall on the company instead of just you!
What qualities do you look for in a VPN?
In evaluating a VPN, you need to ensure that they are using a common software implementation that provides traffic tunneling, as this will give you some assurance that the software has been carefully vetted and that your data is correctly encrypted. In addition, using a well-reviewed service with a clear user agreement outlining how customer data is handled can help ensure that your data isn’t being mishandled by the VPN provider.
What does your current research concern and what discoveries have you made in the past?
My research focuses on network protocols and preserving user data privacy. As a part of this work, I have had the opportunity to develop cryptographic protocols that protect user data stored in the cloud, as well as evaluate the privacy leakage from Internet protocols such as DNS.
How did you become interested in cyber security?
My original decision to pursue Computer Science was tentative because I enjoyed working with computers growing up but was uncertain how well I would enjoy the mathematical aspects of the degree. However, once I started the program, I found the math-related courses were some of my favorites. It was also during this time that I discovered a knack for explaining technical concepts, which motivated me to pursue a career in teaching. After college I was accepted into the graduate program at Georgia Tech, where I developed my expertise in computer security and cryptographic protocols, which led me to my role as an assistant professor at Villanova.
The first security course I took in college was a summer course in network security and cryptography. I was fascinated by the design and proofs of correctness for cryptographic protocols, as well as the sensitivity of these tools to minor errors which can lead to significant security vulnerabilities. That course inspired me to choose cryptography as the topic of my graduate study when I went to graduate school.
What do you wish the average person knew about cyber security?
It’s a lot easier to break into computer systems than people think! That being said, there are some simple defensive measures that can make attacks a lot harder for hackers, which is often all you need to get them to give up and chase an easier target. Also, use a password manager! Cracking human-memorable passwords is VERY easy, and using the same password across multiple sites is very dangerous.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are a total of 917,771 registered sex offenders in the United States and its territories. That’s 279 registered sex offenders for every 100,000 people. Oregon has the largest percentage of sex offenders, at 688 for every 100,000 people; Maryland has the least of any state, 125 for every 100,000 people.
Click the image to view the full size visualization
Want to share this infographic? Use this link or the embed code below!
<br /><br />
<a href=”https://securitybaron.com/blog/us-cities-ranked-by-frequency-of-sex-offenders/”><br /><br />
<span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span><img src=”https://securitybaron.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/us-cities-ranked-by-frequency-sex-offenders-4.png” alt=”U.S. Cities Ranked by the Frequency of Registered Sex Offenders – SecurityBaron.com – Infographic” title=”U.S. Cities Ranked by the Frequency of Registered Sex Offenders – SecurityBaron.com – Infographic”><span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_end”></span></a><br><a href=”https://www.SecurityBaron.com” alt=”SecurityBaron.com” title=”SecurityBaron.com”>By SecurityBaron.com</a><br /><br />
There are three risk levels assigned to sex offenders. Level 1 means that there is a low risk of repeat offense, level 2 means that there is a moderate risk of repeat offense, and level 3 means that there is a high risk of repeat offense or that a threat to public safety exists. Level 3 offenders generally have previous convictions, predatory characteristics that involve seeking victims unknown to the offender, and a tendency toward violence.
This infographic analyzes 125 major U.S. cities to provide a ratio of sex offenders to non-offenders, showing where the highest concentrations of sex offenders are. The top ten cities found to have the highest ratios are as follows:
1. Wilmington, Delaware — 1 sex offender for every 107 residents
2. Orlando, Florida — 1 sex offender for every 143 residents
3. Sioux Falls, South Dakota — 1 sex offender for every 153 residents
4. Helena, Montana — 1 sex offender for every 160 residents
5. Las Vegas, Nevada — 1 sex offender for every 163 residents
6. Richmond, Virginia — 1 sex offender for every 163 residents
7. Bismarck, North Dakota — 1 sex offender for every 168 residents
8. Louisville, Kentucky — 1 sex offender for every 173 residents
9. Hartford, Connecticut — 1 sex offender for every 182 residents
10. Cheyenne, Wyoming — 1 sex offender for every 186 residents
A false sense of security? National test reveals less than half of Americans know how to keep themselves safe online.
Complacent internet users encouraged to take online security more seriously.
Americans most concerned about personal data being leaked online.
Online asset tests how strong your personal online security is.
Most people don’t know how data is shared across connected devices, according to a study by Clutch, a B2B market research company. Clutch surveyed over 500 people who owned connected devices, the majority of which were smart home products like locks and thermostats. To our concern, only 40% of the survey respondents knew that companies share their data across multiple devices.
“Your data is shared across entire networks…all of your data is stored somewhere. Regular smartphone users don’t think about it and don’t think it really matters to them,”
said Pavel Shlenok, CTO of software development company R-Style Lab. As there will be 20.4 million connected devices by 2020, according to Gartner Inc, cybersecurity of the Internet of Things is increasingly relevant.
Today, you’re never far from a headline about a new phishing scam, or a type of online fraud. Online fraud is responsible for more than $100 billion of private and company losses. But while many of us might pride ourselves on never falling prey to an email from a Nigerian prince asking for help in recovering his multi-million dollar oil fortune, our online test of 2,900 internet users revealed how vulnerable we are to online security threats. Overall, respondents scored an unimpressive 39% in the test, which suggests many of us are leaving ourselves wide open to fraud and scams.
“Scammers and fraudsters are getting more and more convincing all the time, making it increasingly hard to tell what’s real from what’s fake. But if you do your research and due diligence, you should be able to keep yourself safe.”
“It’s clear we all need to be much more vigilant,” says Aliza Vigderman, a staff writer at Security Baron.
Even industry leaders like Amazon and Google fall privy to cybersecurity issues. Last June, research from KrebsOnSecurity found that Google Home and Chromecast devices were leaking information containing their locations. As Google can track users’ locations within a few feet even in very populated areas, access to IP location data is a huge security risk which fortunately, Google has since fixed.
In the same vein, Amazon has had their fair share of security mishaps. Last May, a Portland family said that their Alexa-enabled device recorded their conversation, then sent it someone in their contact list. Amazon responded that this was “an extremely rare occurrence” but wasn’t willing to refund the woman for her Echo device, according to Seattle’s KIRO 7.
However, depending on where you reside in the US, the survey did reveal clear geographical disparities of where internet users are more or less protected. Mississippians for example, scored a fairly impressive 64% in the online test. Questions included whether internet users check for a little padlock icon at the top of their browsers before inputting credit card or bank details when purchasing something; if there isn’t one, it could mean those details will be compromised. Not far behind were Californians, who scored 57% – though considering the Golden State is home to Silicon Valley, it’s surprising this figure wasn’t higher. Trailing at the bottom, however, were the good people of South Dakota, where residents only scored 11%.
To find you how strong your online security is, take our Online Security Test above. It will provide you with an overall score, and suggest how you can improve your online security. We also surveyed people about their general online security and found some other interesting results; for example, worryingly, over 1 in 10 internet users (14%) would NOT report if they fell prey to an online scam, perhaps out of embarrassment. Overall, the majority of those surveyed would rate their efforts to protect themselves online from privacy attacks as ‘adequate’ (26%). A quarter said their efforts were very ‘strong’, 22% said ‘strong’, 21% rated their efforts as ‘poor’, and 5% said ‘very poor’.
Respondents were also asked which type of data they would be most concerned about being leaked online. The results were as follows:
Personal data (45%). This type of data includes things like your date of birth, phone number or social security number.
Financial data (33%). This includes credit card numbers, bank account details, expiry dates etc.
IT Security data (9%), such as app data or log in details.
Legal data (9%) – which would be court hearings or any criminal records.
Health data (4%), such as prescription drug information or medical records.
Security Baron’s Cybersecurity Tips
Along with our security quiz, we offer a few easy tips to improve your online security.
The easiest way to increase your cybersecurity is to turn on two-factor authentication. Although it may seem tedious,
Receiving a push notification on your smartphone or
Using biometrics like your fingerprint
is a great way to ensure you are who you say you are.
We also recommend using a password manager which would create difficult and unique passwords for all of your websites and accounts. Don’t worry, though— you won’t have to remember all these passwords, just the password to your password vault. Depending on the password manager, you’ll be able to:
Sign in to all of your accounts with just one click
For a user that wants even more security, we recommend using a VPN, or virtual private network. VPNs are useful if you:
Have particularly sensitive data or
Want to use a server from a different country.
Rather than being directly connected to the Internet, all of your data will travel through encrypted tunnels to private servers. Look out for our review of the best VPNs, coming soon.
Another, simpler option would be going on private or incognito mode. Keep in mind that incognito mode will only hide your internet activity from someone using your device, but it doesn’t protect your activity from outside of the device. Companies, employers, and governments will still be able to track you via your internet service provider, the websites you visit, and your network.
Social media may seem ubiquitous today, but have you ever really stopped and thought about what data you’re putting out to the world? Many people faced a rude awakening when social media app Timehop had a data breach that affected about 21 million app users. Sensitive information like names, emails, and phone numbers was released, although private messages, photos, and Timehop data remained secure.
If you have any privacy concerns, start by making all of your social media accounts private. You may just think that you’re just posting fun pictures, but information like your:
may be exposed to the world. It’s important to practice caution whenever posting on social media, especially if your profile is public.
For an organization, we recommend having a few people handle one account, rather than a single person through a personal account. If only one person handles an account and it’s hacked, there will be no way for other people to step in. Jumping off of that, if an employee quits or is terminated, social media accounts should be deleted as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk having the former employee post something that could potentially damage your brand.
Aside from employees that have recently been let go, keep in mind that naive employees may be your biggest cybersecurity threat, according to cybersecurity consultants Cyber Academy. In fact, over 90% of cyber attacks are attributed to human error. Hackers’ strategies include:
so it’s important to educate employees on potential threats.
Now let’s talk about your computer. Every computer should have:
downloaded. Concurrently, users should update all app and operating system software right away, as this might contain further security updates. As viruses are constantly being tinkered with, frequent updates are a must.
If you have cloud storage, consider that you’re at an increased risk of being hacked. According to Symantec, over 75% of cloud websites contain vulnerabilities, nine percent of which are critical. We recommend:
Backing up your data to local storage like a hard drive
Closely monitoring the data you’re storing in the cloud.
Online Banking Security
Finally, we provide tips about financial security, and no, we don’t mean how much money you have. When it comes to online banking, users should
Consistently check their bank transactions to make sure every expense is accounted for
Make sure that a padlock symbol is visible before making any online purchases
If your browser is telling you that a website is insecure, it’s probably a good idea to not complete your purchase, no matter how cute that dress might look on you.
House fires are one of the most traumatic events that could ever happen in someone’s home. Not only do people lose precious property and treasured items, damage repair could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And of course there’s the greatest fear of all: Fires can lead to injury and death.
In 2016, residential fires make up 29% of all fires in the United States. That same year, the U.S Fire Administration reported that 3,390 people died due to fires while 73.2% of those deaths happened on residential property.
Most of us live our daily lives not even thinking about the fire safety of our homes. But these statistics show that it is vitally important for us to make sure our living spaces are protected against these disasters.
Have no idea where to start?
Don’t worry. Here’s everything you need to know to protect your home from fires.
What Are the Odds of Being in a House Fire?
There’s no one answer to this question since the risk of house fires varies by many regional factors, including climate, time of year, poverty and the quality of home structures. For example, in 2016 California was one of the leading states in house fires due to the rampant wildfires that consumed the west coast. And if you live in a colder climate, fires are more likely to occur during the winter season when you want to turn up the heat in your home. Heating systems that malfunction or are left unattended can be a huge risk.
But of course there are many factors that can cause any residential structure to catch on fire.
The Major Causes of House Fires
Let’s walk through all the scenarios.
Today, mishaps with cooking equipment is the leading cause of all house fires (nearly 50%) and the second leading cause of fire deaths.
It’s important to be careful when you’re cooking up a feast — especially if you are distracted while doing it. Plus if you are using any flammable oils or items near the stove, oven, or open flame, you are putting yourself and your family at risk when you are not conscious of what’s going on in the kitchen.
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of house fires in the U.S. Usually these scary accidents happen when you’re trying to heat up your bedroom with your space heater and don’t realize how close it is to your mattress comforter or any other combustibles.
Upholstered furniture, clothing, mattress, or bedding can all catch fire if they are too close to heating equipment.
Fires can also occur if your heating system breaks down or if you fail to properly clean your equipment.
For example, a dirty chimney or wood stove can result in a house fire. Creosote, a dark brown oil that is often left over from burning wood or coal, is highly flammable can build up if your chimney or stove is not cleaned out regularly.
Maybe that’s why people don’t use chimneys has much as they used to, but if you do have one, make sure you have it inspected before you start using it.
Electrical and Lighting Malfunctions
Electrical malfunctions can happen for many reasons.
Arc faults. This occurs when there is a high power discharge of electricity between two or more conductors within the wires of an electrical system. That discharge can let off a heat so hot that it can melt the wire’s insulation and light up whatever is around it.
Electrical overloads. Have you ever seen a powerstrip loaded up with so many devices that you prayed to yourself that it wouldn’t blow up? Well, that powerstrip will probably not implode into little pieces, but if any cable on that strip experiences more current than it’s capable of carrying, than it might catch on fire.
Short circuiting. This happens when currents don’t flow properly in your electrical system. It’s like they take shortcuts from conductor to conductor, therefore causing a rise in heat and putting you more at risk for a fire.
Current leaks. This tends to occur more in older structures where cables are worn and exposed to excessive moisture or corrosion. Here’s a nightmare: A corroded electrical wire below a wet carpet. Not only can this cause a fire, the conduction of the electricity (via the water) can actually electrocute someone.
Lightning. If lightning strikes a house, it can cause a major power surge which would overload an electrical system and lead to a fire.
Smoking in and of itself does not cause fires, but the materials used for the activity can.
Cigarettes, cigars and pipes that aren’t properly put out or left by combustible material are a huge hazard when it comes to fire safety. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimated that smoking materials caused 17,200 houses in 2014.
We might feel the safest when we are at home, and for some that means we can sit back and enjoy a cigar here and there. But this does not mean we can put our guard down when it comes to disposing smoking materials. Improper disposal can lead to death and injury.
Many people love to use candles in their home: They are great for aromatherapy, creating a romantic ambiance at dinner, a birthday cake or just light up the house when the power goes out.
Candles are extremely useful, but if we are too careless, they can be extremely dangerous. A fire could easily start if someone bumps a candle off it’s holder. And sometimes people forget to put out their candles before they go to bed and let them burn all the way down and scald the surface they sit on. Or sometimes a person can light a candle near flammable material. There’s a whole bunch of situations where candle lighting can go wrong.
Bottom line is: About 25 candle fires are reported every day in the United States, according to the NFPA. That little light of yours needs to be handled with care.
Some fires are just out of our control and there’s nothing much we can do when Mother Nature comes rearing her angry head.
As mentioned before, lightning can cause electrical power surges, which can set off a fire in a home or near it. Forest wildfires can consume entire neighborhoods.
Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes can also create fires if they damage heating or electrical devices in a way that causes the equipment (or material around them) to combust.
Intentional Fires and Arson
As a victim of arson, this is also another misfortune that is tough to control — unless one gets into the mind of the criminal to prevent a disaster from happening.
While arson is not one of the leading causes of house fires, 261,330 intentional fires were reported to U.S. fire departments from 2011-2014. An average of 440 people died each year while about 1,300 people were injured annually.
How to Safeguard Your Home Against House Fires
Thankfully there are many ways to protect yourself from a potentially dangerous situations. We’ll walk you through some safety tips for each of the hazardous situations above.
Protecting Yourself from Cooking Accidents
The next time you are preparing a meal, make sure to ask yourself: “Am I alert enough to be cooking right now?”
Am I sleepy or tired?
Have I been drinking alcohol?
The reason that we point this out is because a lack of awareness and control over one’s body is what leads to accidents. The oil topples onto the stove. Somehow napkins get a little close to an open flame.
It’s important that you have your head on straight when you are cooking with fire. If you are good to start slicing and dicing, here are few more things to keep in mind:
When frying, boiling, grilling or broiling, stay in the kitchen. Don’t leave your pots and pans unattended for things to burn. If you need to leave for a bit for whatever reason, turn off the stove.
When simmering, baking or roasting, check on your food regularly. Again, you don’t want things to burn or catch fire. Take a peak on your food once in a while and stay in the home while it’s cooking. Set a timer to remind you when to check on the food.
Keep combustibles away from stoves and ovens. Oven mitts, napkins, paper towels, utensils, towels, curtains … Keep them at a safe distance!
Make sure your electric stove is off when you are not using it. Because electric stoves don’t cook with fire (which is more visible to the eye) sometimes it’s tough to know if it’s on or off — particularly if a pot or pan is covering it. Before you leave the kitchen, double check that it’s turned off.
In the case that you do have a small grease fire…
Stovetop: Turn off the burner and place the lid on the pot or pan and let the fire die down. Leave everything until it’s completely cooled down.
Oven: Turn off the heat and close the oven door.
Being Safe Around Heating Equipment
One key to fire safety is making sure your heating equipment is operating properly and out of the way of causing harm. Here are a few things to look out for when you are setting up your home:
If you need a new heating system, hire a professional to set it up. You might call yourself Mr. or Mrs. “Fix It”, but it is important that your equipment it installed according to state codes and manufacture instructions. Hire someone to make sure everything is set up correctly.
Keep combustibles at least three feet away from any heating equipment. This will be a sure-fire way to make sure things don’t randomly set on fire. Pun intended.
Create a kid-free zone. To protect your children make sure to have a three-foot barrier around fireplaces or space heaters.
When using a fireplace, cover it with a protective screen. This will prevent embers and sparks from flying into the room. And when you dispose of the ashes, make sure they are cool before you place them in a safe metal container.
Do not use an oven to heat your home. Having an oven open for hours is extremely risky and dangerous.
Clean your equipment. Have your heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year.
Make sure you are using the right fuel. If you are using a heater that requires a certain fuel, stick to that. Using anything else can cause a dangerous malfunction.
Turn off portable heaters before going to bed. You may fall asleep a little chillier than you would like, but this way you’ll be assured that a fire won’t start while you are asleep. If anything bad occurs, you’ll be awake to respond quickly.
Taking Precautions with Electrical Equipment
The tips for electrical equipment are similar to heating in the sense that the emphasis is all around installment and placement:
Make sure all electrical work is done by a pro. Again it’s important that your home is wired correctly and meets local codes.
Never plug in more than one heating device into an outlet. So coffee makers, toasters, space heaters … make sure only one of them is plugged in at a time.
Do not plug in large appliances into extension cords or power strips. Big things like refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves and air conditioners should only be plugged into the wall. These appliances can overload any powerstrips you try to use with them.
Make sure there are no electrical cords running across doorways or under carpets. Cords placed in these areas are more susceptible to damage and electrical leakages can cause fires.
For lighting, make sure to use the right bulbs. Before you install your bulbs, look at the sticker that indicates their wattage. If they are appropriate for your light fixture then you’re safe from the bulb melting.
Avoiding Smoking Accidents
Now we at Security Baron don’t encourage smoking tobacco. According to the National Cancer Institute, smoking cigarettes is one of the leading causes of lung cancer in America.
However, we are aware that my Americans still smoke regardless of the risks. If you’re going to partake in any type of smoking, follow these suggestions to avoid any fire hazards:
Use fire-safe cigarettes. These have a “lower ignition propensity”, which means they are more likely to burnout when left alone.
Smoke outside. Most fire deaths occur inside the home because they are harder to escape.
Keep lighters and matches away from kids. Lock them up. Put them away where children can’t reach them. You don’t want them playing with fire.
Never smoke around medical oxygen. Medical oxygen makes everything in the room that much more flammable. Don’t do it. Oxygen makes fires burn faster and hotter.
When you are putting your cigarette, cigar or pipe out:
Place in a deep ashtray. And make sure that ashtray is away from anything that could burn.
Don’t place in any form of vegetation. Mulch, shrubs and potted plants can easily catch fire.
Before you throw away butts and ashes make sure they are out. Douse them with water or dump sand all over them before disposing them.
Treating Candles with Care
Candles are beautiful devices, but we have to be careful when using them:
Keep them a foot away from anything that can burn. Curtains, lamp shades, table cloths and things of the sort are all susceptible to catching fire. In addition, when you are lighting a candle, make sure your hair and clothing are away from the flame.
Use sturdy candle holders. You don’t want that baby tipping over.
Don’t let the candle burn all the way down. Put it out when you are leaving the room or going to sleep. Put it out when the flame is getting too close to the bottom of the container.
Never light a candle if you’re using oxygen in your home. Again, oxygen makes things extremely flammable.
When the power goes out, use flashlights. If you’re lighting your whole home with candles, you’ll have a lot of flame to look over. If you aren’t paying much attention, you’re at a higher risk for a house fire.
Arming Yourself Against Natural Disasters (Particularly Wildfires)
Tension, fear, and unrest have been burgeoning across the world. Prepper meetup events have seen an attendance spike in the past few years, and the survivalist movement has been gaining traction. There is a developing zeitgeist of fear of a world-altering event. While many fears are unsubstantiated, other threats are potentially brewing that are backed by science.
The World Economic Forum ranks weapons of mass destruction as the top risk that will have the biggest impact in the next 10 years.
With world leaders claiming that they have a “nuclear button” they could press at any moment, it is no wonder that fears of a nuclear apocalypse gnaw at people’s minds around the world. Eight countries have declared possession of nuclear weapons, but only five are part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ninety percent of nuclear warheads belong to the U.S. (6,550) and Russia (6,850). If nuclear weapons were to be unleashed, the death toll and devastation would be colossal. However, not all threats are so obvious and catastrophic. Some could result in a slow but steady death of the planet.
The loss of biodiversity threatens the future of food and fresh water.
Naturally, extinction should occur at a rate of about one to five species per year. In reality, dozens of species go extinct every day. This causes irreparable damage to the biodiversity of the planet, which leaves food supplies and fresh water vulnerable to pests and disease.
This infographic explores 15 ticking time bombs that could impact the future of humanity, the health of the planet, and the fabric of society in various ways. While not all are guaranteed to occur, it is important to be mindful of the threats so preventative and protective actions can be taken.