In a recent column on how to avoid getting hacked online, we talked with several cyber-security experts.
Since then, we've also heard from readers, who shared their own tips. Here are a few:
One of the column's recommendations was to use strong online passwords, at least 8 characters long, with a mix of letters and numerals. But a New Mexico reader, Chuck Denk, suggested that might not be enough. He suggests that passwords should be longer: 12 characters. According to a Georgia Tech Research Institute study, sophisticated software is making it easier for hackers to break into your accounts by rapidly trying various 8-character combinations.
Denk also recommends Last Pass.com, a free password manager for Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Blackberry, Android
Another reader, Robert Ilgen of Concord, noted the column's advice from a McAfee security expert: "Don't click links in the body of an email. Ever."
"Good advice," said Ilgen, "but that takes the fun out of seeing what your friends send you. Would it make sense to Google the sites that our friends send so that we can see if the sites are safe?"
In reply, McAfee expert Siciliano repeated: "The only links that are relatively safe to click in an email are the ones that you are immediately expecting from someone you are in direct communication with."
In other words, if a work colleague, friend or family member says they're emailing you something immediately, it's presumably OK to click on the links. But beware of anything else: "It could be infected with a downloadable virus that could compromise your (computer or phone)," said Siciliano.
In most cases, he said, "as long as your device has the latest antivirus, antiphishing, antispyware and a firewall set up, it will most likely recognize a bad link when clicked."
To check out a website to be sure it's safe, Ilgen says he uses Norton's "Safe Web", a free service from Norton, the online security products company. It's similar to McAfee's "Site Advisor."
In both cases, before going to a website that might be infected, you can check it out by typing in the name. You'll get a Green (safe), Yellow (questionable) or Red (dangerous) icon, indicating whether the site is OK to visit.