3 tips from a Calgary tech expert that will keep you safer online

A Calgary technology consultant says three simple tips can beef up your online security experience — and most of them are free.

Breach information compiled, password vaults and a DNS tool to make surfing safer

Will Knoll talks password vaults, security breaches and DNS tools 4:15

A Calgary technology consultant says three simple tips can beef up your online security experience — and most of them are free.

"We have talked about these huge breaches with millions of email accounts being leaked online," Will Knoll told CBC Calgary News at 6 this week.

"And it's really hard for the common person to try to go through there and figure out whether they have been included in that breach."

Knoll says there's an online database that can help with that risk.

"You don't have to install anything, you actually just give them your email address, not the password. It's a free online service called haveibeenpwned.com. This aggregates all that information, puts it into a database. You can also sign up for alerts if any future breaches include your address so you know to change your password."

Passwords a problem?

"Password management has become a cumbersome thing for a lot of people," Knoll explained.

"There is a piece of software called the password vault that can take care of all of these problems for us. The main ones are lastpass.com and 1password.com and they both have free or trial versions. The idea is that you only have to learn one single password for the password vault and then it takes care of remembering or generating passwords for all the websites that you visit, securing them and syncing them across all of your devices. The next time you visit any website you just click on the password vault and it fills that information in for you directly. Both of them also have family plans where you can share accounts like utilities and pass secure notes like credit card information as opposed to emailing it."

Who do you trust?

"The last thing is to take care of who we trust on the internet to a degree," the consultant said.

"It's called opendns.com. It is also free, you don't have to install anything but you do have to change something on your home router but they do have guides online available to help you do that," Knoll said.

"It is about as easy as changing your WiFi password and it can protect all of the devices that you connect to your network. DNS, or the domain name system, is like the phonebook of the internet. It is what translates CBC.ca into the IP address of the CBC servers. Most home routers use Shaw or Telus by default. Open DNS's are a little bit smarter though.

"The idea is that, if you receive a phishing email and you try to click the link, opendns.com's servers will say, 'no, actually you shouldn't be able to go there.' If somebody tries to download a virus on your home network, opendns.com will not resolve the name of the server that is hosting that virus. You can't download it, it stays off of the network. It is a very simple thing that you can do on the edge of the network that will protect all of the devices that are inside of it."


With files from CBC Calgary News at 6