It’s a brand-spanking new year and it’s coming with fresh round of online security challenges. There are three new issues you should know about (and take action on), to keep your personal information safe:

1. Browser autofill scam. Scammers use your browser’s autofill settings against you to glean information when you’re filling out forms online.

Here’s how it works: When you start typing into a web-based form, the autofill settings in your browser may automatically enter information you’ve used in the past. As it turns out, in Chrome, Safari and Opera (and also some plugins and utilities, including password saver LastPass) will fill out ANY text box, even one hidden on the page by a scammer. This means, even if you can’t see a text box, it could be getting filled with potentially sensitive information (even credit card data!).

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Disable your browser’s autofill setting. Here’s how to turn it off in Chrome (scroll down) and Safari.
  2. If you use Mozilla’s Firefox, this browser does not have an autofill system. Note: this is only for now, one is allegedly in development. And, just because it doesn’t, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s more secure. Check out this story from Tip Top Security for browser ratings on a variety of factors.

Sources: The Guardian and Forbes.

2. Update your Flash Player. Now. Adobe is closing critical vulnerabilities (like, they could allow an attacker to take control of your system remotely). They have a patch for Flash (closes 13 vulnerabilities), and for Adobe Reader and Acrobat (which close 29 potential security gaps).

Here’s what you should do:

  1. The Flash player for your browser should auto update, but you should double check to be sure (keep reading for instructions). Also update your Flash Player Desktop Runtime for Windows, Linux, and Apple computers.  To verify the version of Adobe Flash Player you have, access the About Flash Player page (it will tell you in the Version Information box), or right-click on content running in Flash Player and select “About Adobe (or Macromedia) Flash Player” from the menu. If you use multiple browsers, perform the check for each browser you have installed on your system.
  2. For Adobe Reader and Acrobat, make sure you run updates on your computer. They’ll be available, but depending on your computer’s settings, you may need to manually choose to install them.

Sources: Adobe and The USB Port

3. Update your Windows. Microsoft’s latest patch fills 15 security holes in Windows. Reminder, Tuesdays are Microsoft’s normal Patch Day. Resolve to auto-install your computer’s security updates for this year so you’ll never miss one!

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Make sure your computer installs the latest updates, if it hasn’t done so automatically.
  2. Also know: According to Krebs on Security, this is the last month Microsoft is going to publish individual bulletins for each patch. Moving forward, they’re going to lump them all together into “Security Updates Guide.”


Image courtesy of ranjith ravindran at

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