The Help Desk answers your security questions

Caution tape on a computer surrounded with online and Internet crime words

Chester Wisniewski is a frequent guest on our program. He's with the security firm Sophos and we've always liked how he's able to lay out complex security issues in a way anyone can understand. We asked him a couple of questions we received from our listeners.

Dean from Stonybrook, N.Y., asks:
Is it helpful to have two separate online personas, one real one for family and finances that you don't share with anybody, and one bogus one for web surfing and all the junk mail that follows that will go to some bogus place?

Chester says:
I think it's a great idea. You can do it on multiple levels. Have separate emails for financial accounts or things you put on websites. That will protect against phishing. Someone won't have that information. You can keep fake names and addresses for web forms. Multiple personas can be good to protect you. Keeping them straight isn't always so simple but you can jot it on a piece of paper in your wallet and you're good to go.

Jeffrey from Miami Beach, Fla., wonders:
If I get an email I think is fishy and I just open the email and I don't open any attachments, is my online data being compromised?

Chester says:
Generally that's safe, if you've disabled the capability for your email client to draw graphics. If you're viewing in normal protected mode, you'll be fine. People sometimes think .txt or .html or .doc are safe. They might be safe, could be trouble. As long as you're only viewing, that will be fine.

Also in this program, mob mentality in Vancouver. After the Vancouver Canucks failed to capture the Stanley Cup, some hockey fans rioted in the streets. Now there are websites and Facebook pages dedicated to identifying the rioters. As a result, some suspected rioters say they're being hounded by online vigilantes.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...