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Smart Cybersurfing

Keeping your data safe

Listen to David Sovereen, President of Mercury Network, discuss this topic with MoneyTalks show host Greg Anderson on WOMT Radio.

The Internet today offers consumers a tremendous value; access to information, the ability to keep in touch with friends and family, gaming and entertainment options, social media, shopping, and so much more. With all that goodness, it’s no wonder that the Internet has become an integrated part of our lives! As integrated as it is, it’s important that consumers be informed about the safest ways to access and use the Internet.

The big question is how do we keep our data safe? Cybercriminals are on the rise and keeping data safe is important. Not a week goes by that we don’t hear from a customer whose computer or accounts have been infected or compromised, and the tactics used for getting into one’s personal information are changing all the time. It’s important to be aware of some of the methods being employed and how to protect yourself.


Cybercriminals often participate in what we call Phishing; sending e-mails that look official, and links to fake web sites that look extremely similar. They use this to capture your input and take over your account. Once they have the account information and access your e-mail, they can access nearly all of your accounts. Most password reset requests rely on working e-mail. With access to your mailbox, they can request password resets on banking web sites, Facebook, shopping sites where you have perhaps stored payment account information, and more. Yahoo!, Gmail, and Hotmail will not e-mail you, without solicitation from you, requesting you reply with your account information or click a link to verify it. Keeping your e-mail account safe and secure should be a very high priority for everyone!


Limiting others access to your social network can help keep your information protected. For instance, Facebook is a great way to keep up with friends and family and gather information, but while the entertainment value is great, it’s prudent to pay attention to the information that you share and with whom you share it.

One of the potential threats of Facebook is that many have become desensitized to the global reach that our personal network has. “Friends” and “Friends of Friends” can stretch our reach to numbers we can’t even fathom in the social network arena! Also, allowing “Everyone” to have access to your profile and timeline can be reason for concern, opening you and your Friends list to communications with a person that may be interested in accessing passwords and other private information. Instead of sharing your social media posts and profile with “Everyone,” limit who can access your profile, posts, and pictures. Facebook allows you to configure what you share with “Friends,” “Friends of Friends,” and “Everyone,” you can even customize it to just select individuals. Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other Social Networking sites have similar settings.

Secure Site

When utilizing the internet for purchasing or establishing accounts, look for the Lock in your web browser. It’s usually near the top, in or near the Address Bar. The Lock means your connection to the server is secure, and information you submit is encrypted before being sent over the Internet. If you don’t see that Lock, you should not give any personal information to the site, not even create an account or log in with a username and password.


We all know how bothersome multiple passwords can be. It seems like a very unnecessary thing to do at times, but keeping complex passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and a symbol or two is one of the most effective ways to keep someone from accessing all of your accounts. Don’t use the same password on multiple sites and only use the save password function in your web browser if it’s a private computer and you have your own user account with a secure password. Using unique passwords can prevent cybercriminals from having access to all of your personal accounts and sensitive information.

While personal information cannot possibly be 100% protected and secure, taking some of these simple steps will help ensure that you are not an easy target.

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