Cyber criminals want you to be lazy and make stupid mistakes. It makes their job that much easier. You may consider yourself smart, but if you aren’t taking even the most basic measures to protect yourself, you may as well have a neon welcome sign on your data. And with all the simple options available to make protection easy, you really have no excuse.
The internet has connected all of us in ways never before imagined. Unfortunately, those strangers your family told you about have even more access to your data and don’t even need to TALK to you anymore. We are constantly learning of new, horrific vulnerabilities (‘Heart bleed‘, Target Credit card hack) and new methods of grabbing your information.
Password like your life depended on it
Yeah, I made it a verb. You know what are you are supposed to do here. Companies have spent millions in marketing and training to help you stop creating and using weak passwords. And you hate keeping up with those long passwords that keep changing.
What’s the big deal? Well, how is your personal information less important than your employer’s critical data?
Since this has been covered at length before (see this post), we’ll just do a quick refresher with a few ProTips.
- do NOT provide security answers that can be found via publicly available information. (You can even make up a bogus answer entirely if you’re feeling festive.)
- Use encrypted password tools like Keepass or Lastpass to create random passwords. These tools are available on many platforms and can even be shared between devices.
- Create different passwords for different web-sites. If your password is compromised by the operators of the web-site you chose to trust, you can at least limit the damage
Secure your home network like you were the frickin’ NSA
Encryption matters. If someone is setting up your wireless for you, insist on the strongest encryption and keys. If you are setting up your home network, the same rule applies. Often, your OS will display some sort of lock icon to let you you know you are using some form of encryption. This does not indicate strength of encryption, only presence.
Passwords for tablets, laptops and desktops and encrypted hard drives? Absolutely. You may trust your neighbors, but your neighbors are the least of your worries . Think about it. You are broadcasting your data to any device with a wireless network card within range, including the road nearby. Don’t believe me? With a wirelessly connected laptop, tablet or smartphone test how strong your broadcast signal is by seeing how far you can go from your house while still connecting to your wireless network. That is how far someone can be to snoop.
Anti-virus+. These days, AV is not enough, there are web privacy apps, additional firewalls, backup software, and privacy tools normally included with a standard AV purchase, these can only help in your cyber life, and also makes a nice lead into the next topic. Not to have you throw things right now, but your smartphone is no longer immune, and cars are the next target. Anti-Virus caught on in popularity with the internet, and we will be in need of the protection provides until the robots take over (I believe in you, Neo).
‘Netting in public
Wires add physical security, but we are constantly trying to un-tether and keep our options open to ‘go somewhere’ like the bookstore or local coffee shop. ‘Netter beware.
Trust no one. If the section above on home network security didn’t make you paranoid, at least secure yourself in public. The devices you carry in public have the capability of broadcasting your personal information, even if it is nothing but your internet history.
Consider encryption of your portable devices if possible, this is unfortunately lacking among native capabilities of our most popular devices. (If there are any big security concerned companies listening…we await the next big, easy to use app to protect us in public and not get in our way while doing it…. And, Go!)