PREVENT VS. FIX: PROTECT YOUR DIGITAL LIFE

PROTECT YOUR DIGITAL LIFE IN A FEW EASY STEPS

More than ever, we rely on our digital devices and seemingly are always connected to various services, networks or apps. Hackers know this and are always looking for ways access your device or data, often without you even knowing it. Here are a few ways to protect your digital life.

THINK SAFETY

Whenever you are using your device, keep in the back of your mind that there is always a bad person somewhere trying to figure out how to get their hands on a device or data that does not belong to them.

Some people feel all they should have to worry about is using their device as fast as they can to do what they need to do. I have had people tell me, “I am not a computer person or a security geek and it is not my job to worry about hackers. Tech people should make better computers.”

Sure, we all can be better at our jobs. However, I ask these same people,

  • Do you use a seatbelt when driving? Are you a Vehicle Safety Engineer?

  • Do you have an alarm system in your home? Do you lock your doors and windows? Are you a Home Security Professional?

  • Do you own a gun or carry mace? Are you in Law Enforcement?

Please understand, I am not asking people to read darkreading.com or various security bulletins daily like I do. However, there has to be some level of personal accountability to keep yourself safe(r).  To start, how about:

  • Be  cautious.

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

  • Do not open emails from someone you do not know.

  • Never click on links or attachments in suspicious emails.

  • Use Web of Trust (mywot.com) or URLVoid.com to check if a website is safe BEFORE you access the site.

Hackers do not rest and they are just fine with you relying on someone else 100% for your digital safety. I hope that the tips below will be helpful

 

UPDATE

I do not think it is possible to write software programs that are 100% free of any security flaws. When companies discover security problems, they release patches and updates to make their products more secure. Take advantage of patches and updates and keep the software on your devices updated.

 

MALWARE PROTECTION

New viruses are created every single day. Use a good antivirus program and keep it updated. I use Avast on all of my devices. It has worked well for me over the years.

 

PROTECT TEXT MESSAGES

Take a good look at Signal if you want to send and receive text messages that are encrypted.  Encrypted messages are scrambled in such a way that makes them almost impossible to read by anyone not a part of the conversation.

 

ENCRYPT YOUR LAPTOP HARD DRIVE

It is likely that the data on the hard drive of your computer is more valuable than the computer itself. According to Forbes, about 12,000 laptops are stolen or lost each year. If your laptop is stolen, you don’t want some stranger looking through your files. If your hard drive is encrypted, the data cannot be read until the correct key\passcode is provided. BitLocker (Windows) and FileVault (Mac OS) may be just what you need.

 

BACKUP YOUR DATA

There are two types of hard drives. Those that have failed and those that will – if you keep it long enough. Make a habit of backing up your files. Backup your files to an external hard drive and possibly even to the Cloud. SecondCopy, Backblaze and Carbonite are good programs.

 

GOOD PASSWORDS

I know you have heard it before, don’t use simple, easy to guess passwords. Do not use the same password on multiple sites and systems. I wrote an article a few months ago about how to create strong AND easy to remember passwords. You can find it at the link below.

https://technologyjones.com/2017/09/19/password-ill-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours/

 

Two FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

Whenever you can, use 2-factor authentication. What is it? In order to access an account, you have to know TWO things instead of just one. For example. When I log into my Gmail account from a device that is not my own laptop (Gmail already knows my laptop), I have to provide my password and a code sent to my phone. A hacker may guess my password, but he should not have my phone and therefore not the required second factor, the code. Gmail will not allow the hacker to login to my account with only my password.

 

HTTPS ONLY

HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. It is how the browser on your device talks to websites. There is a problem with HTTP communications. HTTP sends info from your computer to the Internet\websites in clear text. A hacker could possibly intercept your communication and easily read everything you sent. HTTPS adds SECURITY to your communications by encrypting\scrambling any information sent between your computer and websites. HTTPS Everywhere is a browser plug-in that forces websites to use the secure version of their site when communicating with your device.

 

USE A VPN

Are you really worried about privacy? Do you want to go a step further than HTTPS? A VPN may be for you. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN creates a tunnel between your device and the device, network or website involved in the communication. All information sent through the tunnel is encrypted and can only be read if you have the right key. In this case, your computer has the key and so does your VPN provider. There are a number of good VPN services, but research Private Internet Access, TunnelBear and F-Secure for more information.

 

A MORE PRIVATE SEARCH

Google is the number 1 search engine in the world. However, there are those that are concerned about privacy and Google collecting, analyzing and selling your searches. If you are searching for sensitive information, using DuckDuckGo may be a better way to go.

 

Got questions, please feel free to send me an email (John@technologyjones.com) or leave a reply.

 

 

John

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