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Tech and Security

why do we need cybersecurity

Why Do We Need Cybersecurity?

why do we need cybersecurity

Why Do We Need Cybersecurity?

task virtual assistant
Today is Computer Security Day and I want to answer the question:

Why do we need cybersecurity?

First let me say, I had a completely different statement prepared, until last week. What changed? GoDaddy's major security breach, of which I was affected. I spent pretty much all of last week trying to get in touch with their tech support, and had my awesome web guy, Mark Hunter of MarkOfApproval, looking into what we could salvage if GoDaddy was not able to get me back up and running. It was probably the most stressful week I've had since I launched my business in 2019. And completely avoidable!
Many of you may have heard of GoDaddy's system breach which affected over 1.2 million users, as well as managed hosting resellers. This breach could have been avoidable if GoDaddy had proper cybersecurity systems in place, first and foremost being encrypted passwords! We can make our passwords strong, complicated, and basically unhackable for 30,000+ years, but how secure are we if we write it down and leave it out for anyone to see? Or, if the company there to protect your data is using plain text to store passwords? This is pretty much the same thing as writing it down. Shame on you GoDaddy! The good news is that they are now using encryption. So let's move on to what today is about.
Cybercriminals can make changes in a system without being detected by antivirus, and they know about the software vulnerabilities. They are smart beings and they find ways to get into our systems and create havoc in less time than we expect. One of the most common transgressions is phishing or social engineering--deliberately trying to get you, a family member, or an employee, to download malware or give up their credentials by pretending to be someone they trust. Security experts predict that these malicious activities will only increase in the future, so this is a serious issue that needs our full attention.
Still asking why do we need cyber security? Woman Shrugging on Facebook 13.1 Here are five pretty good reasons why:

Reason #1

Hackers are everywhere; your business rival, your neighbor, or simply a person out to take over your computer. Hackers make use of software loopholes and hijack your computer through backdoors, usually installed programs, or through cracking software. They can gain access to possibly all your personal and sensitive information such as bank accounts, credit cards, or top trade secrets. They can also use your computer to attack other networks, with you oblivious to all the malicious operations.

Reason #2

Internet scams and frauds are rampant. These include phishing, a very organized cybercrime, which deceives people into giving their banking and other sensitive details by pretending to be representatives from legitimate financial institutions, sending e-mail messages, and asking unsuspecting people to verify their passwords, account numbers, and other vital information.

Reason #3

A virus can slow down your computer. Worse, it can cause your system to crash. The virus reaches your system through a number of entryways. One is through unsecured and unknown websites from which you download files, programs, applications, or tools for free. As much as it can infect home computers, viruses can leave damaging effects on companies, both big and small.

Reason #4

Spyware, as the name hints, can spy on you. A computer program automatically installed on your computer, spyware tracks personal information you entered and sends it to its creator. Unlike computer viruses, spyware leaves the computer owners totally unaware of its presence. Most users with infected systems don’t even know that spyware has been installed into their computers.

Reason #5

Adware can fill your screen with those annoying popups. Like spyware, adware penetrates the system through shareware. On its own, it downloads ads and allows them to run and pop up. This proves to be quite annoying for computer owners. But what’s even more troubling is that adware can sometimes contain spyware. This increases the risk for cyber threats.

Computers today are faster and more advanced, and so are the cyber bad guys trying to gain access to your information. Computer Security Day reminds us to protect our computers. The nature of the Internet as a tool for communication and education has been used and misused for personal gain, which has resulted in an unprecedented rise in cybercrime rates. We need Cybersecurity to protect our people and data from threats like ransomware and hackers. The threats are real and they happen more often than we think.

So take a few minutes today to review your cybersecurity habits. Use the #ComputerSecurityDay checklist below to secure your computer.

Enable Windows Update.

Install and keep running antivirus software.

Turn on Windows Firewall.

Keep all software updated. 

Always use strong passwords.

Don’t share passwords and don’t write them down. 

A password is required to access my computer.

Remove unused programs.

Secure your wireless network. 

Back up critical data. 

Use caution when browsing the Internet. 

I log off the computer when I’m not using it.

My web browser does not store or remember my passwords.

Periodically remove temporary Internet files.

Spread the word on social media using #ComputerSecurityDay to inform others how they can secure their data!

cybersecurity at home

For more information on how you can protect yourself, your family, and your home-based business, grab my e-course "Cybersecurity At Home". Get it today and use Coupon Code: CSD21 for a 30% discount! Expires midnight 12/1/21.

Read more on the GoDaddy breach here: GoDaddy Breached

cybersecurity

10 Tips to Keep Your Online Environment Safe

cybersecurity

10 Tips to Keep Your Online Environment Safe

task virtual assistant

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month.  Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.

Let's face it; we live in a very technological world. A world of smartphones, smart homes, smart cars; and we can find at least one or more devices connected to the Internet in more than 90% of households.  According to a study by Deloitte, U.S. households have an average of 11 devices!

"a significant increase in connected devices,” ... Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. telecom and media and entertainment leader at Deloitte

There is a lot of new opportunities for hackers. New ways to enter your home virtually and steal your data, your personal information, and even spy on you! You can protect yourself significantly just by following these ten tips.

1. Stay Off Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is not secure and is a hacker's playground. They can set up a look-a-like network, hoping you'll connect to it, they can intercept your data, and even create fake Wi-Fi access points. Once you've connected to their network, they can see what you see—going to check your balance in your checking account? And now, they have your password and account information. They can also get any information you have stored on your device. When you're out of the house and need to connect, it's always better to use your service provider's network. There may be a fee, but what is your data worth to you?

2. Use a VPN

Maybe you're in public often and rely on public Wi-Fi? If so, I suggest signing up for a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure your data is safe on an unsecured network. Many VPN providers have free trial periods. TechRadar lists the Best VPN Services in 2021. Your Internet Service Provider may also have a VPN service as well.

3. Best Router Practices

I really wish router manufacturers would require manual set up rather than being ready-to-use right out of the box. The default router settings are very common, it's like using "password" for your password. We'll talk about that later. So what are some of the things you can do to make your router secure?

  • Rename the admin account and change the password
  • Create a unique network name (SSID), do no use the default name
  • Turn on encryption, use WPA2
  • Hide your network from anyone doing a random search
  • Place your router in a central location, away from windows and doors, and exterior walls.

4. Use Complicated Passwords

Avoid simple passwords. Using “password” might be easy for you to remember, but that is the first word a hacker will try. Most sites now require a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Creating a complicated password is a good rule of thumb, even if the site doesn’t require it.  In general, a good password is at least eight characters long, but the longer, the better. The best password is 25 characters.  Another good practice is to form a password from a phrase. For example, you can create t1$!C4gtMpSd from “This is so I can’t forget my password.” You can use multiple methods to help you form unique and cryptic passwords.

5. Use a Firewall

Most routers will contain a built-in firewall that will protect and prevent any network attacks from intruders.  The default setting is typically disabled, so be sure to confirm that your router's firewall is on.

6. Keep Security Software Updated

Just like technology moves at a fast pace, so does malware. Your Anti-Virus and malware software is only as good as the latest update. If you are not updating regularly, you are putting your computer and any other device on your network at risk. I recommend setting a schedule for the updates to run, preferably during non-peak usage times, as they can be resource-heavy.

7. Protect All Connected Devices

Your computer is not the only device at risk. Keyloggers, spyware, viruses, etc. can also infect your smartphone, Xbox, Playstation, tablet, iPad, pretty much anything connected to your network is at risk and must be protected.

Ensure all devices are behind your home router/firewall to protect them from unrestricted access from the Internet.

8. Scan External File Storage

Run your anti-virus scan on all USB drives and other external file devices before you open any files. Keyloggers are often passed on by a thumb drive. You open the infected file and it secretly installs on your computer and sends every keystroke to the hacker.

9. Look for the S 

Always make sure you are on a secure site before transmitting any personal or sensitive information. Just look at the address bar for the locked padlock, and make sure the website address has an S. For example, http://notsecure --> https://secure

10. Backup! Backup! Backup!

Perform regular backups. How often you schedule the backup to run depends on how often you make changes or add files. Having a backup is not just good common sense, but it can save you a lot of time and trouble should you ever be faced with a ransomware attack. I store all my backups in the cloud, and on an external drive.  I do a full back up monthly, and nightly file backups. Take it from someone who has lost all their information, it can happen to you!

Did you know that every single year, about 70% of the US population experiences SOME form of cyber-attack. The truth is, 99% of computers ARE vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Learn how to protect your home network and keep your information safe.

cybersecurity at home

 

source-checking isolation tips

3 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Questionable Links

source-checking isolation tips

Don't Get Bamboozled By Bogus Links!

3 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Questionable Links

Sung

Unsolicited emails from unknown senders are sometimes the onset of cyberattacks. They may entice you to click on a link or open an attachment that may contain malware. Clicking on the links can also direct you to some compromising websites, so be cautious. If a link looks suspicious, look it up on the web and do a quick research. The rule of thumb is to ignore seemingly malicious emails. But if you're really curious, or just not sure it's evil, there are several ways to protect yourself and your environment from unknown and questionable web links. Read on for a few tips you can use to protect yourself while investigating that link or attachment.

The main key is isolation. Below outlines a small list of isolations that you can utilize.

Isolate Yourself

Use a completely different platform. If possible, utilize a “Burner” computer. A burner computer could be an old laptop that you don’t care about if it gets compromised. There is zero personal information, no passwords stored, or any other sensitive information.

Also, protect your network by connecting the burner computer to a different network, such as an Internet Café, free WI-FI, or even your guest WI-FI if it's enabled.

iOS and Android

Use a more secure, but less robust operating system. These operating systems are considered secure because, most of the time, if an operation/application requires interaction with system resources or the operating system, it will ask the user to “Allow / Deny” it. Examples would be:

  • iOS (iPhone, iPad)
  • Android (Phones, Chrome books, Tablets)

Go Virtual

Use Virtual Isolation. If any of the above is not available or practical, then virtual isolation is your next best bet. Virtual Isolation means exactly that. Create a virtual machine within your computer (be it iOS or Windows) by utilizing specialized software. Below lists some of the more popular options. They all have pretty much the same features. The only difference these days are support, ease of use, and price.

If you rely on the Internet for anything or you rely on your computer for anything, it is a must that you fully understand what threats are out there and how you can better protect yourself. Taking a few precautions will help keep your computer safe from hijackers and becoming a zombie machine.

cybersecurity for kids

Cybersecurity For Kids

cybersecurity for kids

Cybersecurity For Kids

task virtual assistant

Your children need protection from the lurkers and hackers in cyberspace. With more schools shifting to online learning, almost all kids now have access to the internet. Parents should be actively involved in teaching their children safe cybersecurity habits.

Most kids who access the internet are not careful enough when giving out personal information online. They don't realize the risks and dangers of having their confidential and personal information online. From viruses to hackers to identity thieves, these people are lurking in cyberspace, waiting for that opportunity. I can only stress the importance of cybersecurity for kids.

There are several ways to help teach your children the proper methods of accessing, behaving, and protecting themselves online. The most common areas your children go on the web are social network sites where they have online profiles, photos, and keep online journals. Explain the dangers of accepting online friend invites, especially if they don't know the person.

cybersecurity for kids

It's important to remember that you are not just adding that one person; you get the "friends of friends" spiral. When you add someone as a friend, their friends will also have viewing access, and, if the settings are not locked down, they will also be able to comment. Most of the time, your kids won't even know these people, and now, if they choose, these individuals can gain access to your kid's personal information. Use the privacy and/or parental controls on the social media apps your kid's access. Many are interactive and easy to set up.

Put their computer in a high-profile area, such as a kitchen, where one or more people are always there. Setting them up in the main traffic area allows you to monitor their browsing activities more easily or encourage them to ask questions. They can call your attention to their monitor if they want to ask questions or show you something. It also discourages them from visiting lewd and otherwise undesirable websites.

cybersecurity for kids

These websites are not only inappropriate but are also a breeding ground of malware, spyware, and virus applications that can destroy files, the computer, and even other devices on your network. It's best to be proactive and use controlling mechanisms like content blockers that prohibits them from accessing certain websites and a monitoring application, so you can review what sites they are visiting.

Talk to your children about what they can do online. Get them to engage in a healthy conversation about what they do online, and to let you know if anything seems off. Help them to develop good online habits to ensure their safety online. Teach them the pros and cons of social networking, online file sharing, and even software piracy and illegal downloads. Increasing their knowledge and understanding of the technology of computers and the internet and cybersecurity is arming them with the best protective gear.

cybersecurity for kids

Keep in mind that children are naturally curious. Their innocence, and their desire to be independent, can cause them to be careless. Ordinary safeguards are not enough when it comes to protecting your kids in cyberspace. You need to know what your kid's computer habits are so you can better protect them.

Online Scams

Online Scams – What You Need To Know

Online Scams

Online Scams - What You Need To Know

Add-a-subheading

The internet can be a blessing for most of us. Still, there are some with malicious intent who threaten to ruin its usefulness by trying to scam unsuspecting online victims.

"Smart people get scammed." This is the first chapter in Frank Abagnale's book, "Scam Me If You Can," and the best place for me to begin. If you're like most, you probably think it will never happen to you. You might be thinking, "I wouldn't fall for something so obvious," or perhaps you have put measures into place that will prevent it. You may have a fantastic, undecipherable, complex password, and you never, ever click on links in emails from strangers. Ok, I'll give you points for that; you're off to a great start.

But do you click on links in emails from someone you know? Do you love playing those quiz games everyone posts on Facebook (I'm guilty!). Do you shop online?

So let's talk about online scams, how you can minimize the risk of being deceived, and what you should do if you think you've been scammed or defrauded.

With the popularity of online shopping, cybersecurity has become essential to everyone. Shopping, even in the real world, involves money, and where there is money, there will be criminals. And with all this shopping in cyberspace, criminals lost no time in following the money trail targeting online shoppers, and fraudulently obtaining the information they can use for their financial gains. The three most common ways criminals attack online shoppers are:

  1. Unprotected computers
  2. Fake sites and email messages
  3. Charities

Online shopping brings us the best of two worlds: bargains and convenience. The internet can be a blessing for most of us. But fall victim to a scam, and it becomes a nightmare. I put together a list of the most common type of scams you need to keep an eye on, but this list is only the tip of the iceberg, as new scams pop up every day.

Phishing

Phishing mostly involves the sending of an email falsely claiming to be from an established legitimate enterprise, attempting to scam the user into providing sensitive information needed for their nefarious actions. The email directs the user to visit a Web site where they are asked to update personal information, such as passwords and credit card, social security number, and bank account numbers like the one below.

online scams

It might also try to get you to download a virus that infects your computer with malware or opens up a back door so they can steal sensitive data. Phishing happens most often via email, but it can also occur over the phone, via text, and on social media.

In particular, beware of online quizzes on social media. They will often try to get information by asking you common questions so they can then guess your passwords. Many people base their passwords on birthdays, children and pet names, and so on. My take-away here? If you use complex, random passwords that do not contain any personal information, you can enjoy the quizzes and discovering what Disney princess or villain you should be! Small plug here – you can learn more about passwords in my new e-course, Cybersecurity At Home, coming out this month.

Nigerian Prince

Believe it or not, this scam still works. It usually involves an email from a desperate Nigerian prince, asking for help in getting a large amount of money from the bank. Those who get hooked pay small amounts to get paperwork for the transaction and then finally get the money. However, all they are doing is putting money in someone else's bank account, and possibly even revealing their sensitive financial information.

Lottery or Contest Scams

These have also been around for some time and still fool people. The email tells you that you are a winner and need to pay a small fee to get your cash or prize.

Free Trial Offers

Free trials are often fronts for stealing your sensitive information, as well as many end up hitting your account with renewals each month if you are not careful. Check your financial accounts regarding autopayment settings and delete repeat payments as needed.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a very dangerous scam that is hard to overcome. The ransomware locks your computer until you pay the attackers in bitcoin. The longer you wait to pay, the more money they add on to the ransom. So far, even top computer security pros have not been able to restore data or track down the criminals. Note that if you have a backup hard drive connected to your computer, the ransomware can also lock that up. Back up all your data in a reliable cloud storage system and avoid clicking on anything that does not look legitimate.

Red Flags

? Look carefully at the website. If the spelling and grammar are not correct and the whole site looks like it was tossed together without thought, you should probably find another website to do your shopping.

?Attackers will try to replicate brand-name sites. You could end up with knockoffs from China, or you might have your identity stolen. Knockoffs cost companies almost one trillion dollars annually. Check out the sites you shop at carefully to ensure they are real.

?Additionally, look for the lock symbol on the address bar or https://. Most scam sites will not bother with getting an SSL certificate.

?Be leary of sites that continuously offer huge discounts. Bargains are more than likely knockoffs or lures to spend money without the goods being delivered. Compare prices at Google Shopping and shop around. Avoid the bargain basement.

?Beware of any site that requires you to pay only by wire transfer, pre-paid gift cards, bitcoin, or other cryptocurrencies. These are usually scam sites. My advice? If you stumble onto one of these, close the tab and move on.

?Google the physical mailing address, see a map and get a Google satellite image of it. If the address does not exist, or the building looks suspicious, don't shop at that site. is not legitimate.

?Read the reviews. Type in the name of the site or the product you are considering buying, and then add the word "scam." Take seriously all the feedback you find before doing business with that site.

Can I Prevent It?

There are several things you can do to minimize the risk of being defrauded online. A little bit of vigilance and common sense can go a long way towards keeping you safe. Here are some do's and don'ts.

Do Protect Your Identity at All Costs

Do Shop only at reputable sites. Keep your passwords secure and change them regularly.

Don't Click on Links in Emails

Do be especially vigilant if the email claims to come from your bank or a sender you don't know.

Do Use Antivirus Software and Keep It Up to Date

Don't Store Credit Card Information at ECommerce Sites

Don't Shop at Overseas Sites

Do Use a Credit Card, PayPal, or Amazon Pay to Pay, not Debit Card or Check.

What To Do If You Are A Victim

No one wants to think about what to do if they are the victim of online fraud, but being familiar with the most important steps to take could help the whole incident become a lot less devastating.

✓ File a non-urgent incident report with your Police Precinct

✓ Report it to the FTC at https://ftccomplaintassistant.gov. If you received a phishing email, you could forward it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at reportphishing@apwg.org. If you received a phishing text message, forward it to SPAM (7726).

✓ Notify the bank and credit card company and freeze your accounts by reporting the status of the cards as lost, stolen, or your statement as showing fraudulent charges.

✓ Contact the three main credit reporting bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, to file a Fraud Victim Statement. Also, ask them to issue a security freeze on your credit report so that no one will be able to try to get extended credit using your credit history and score.

✓ Deal with identity theft proactively by formulating an action plan for recovery at https://www.identitytheft.gov.

You can never be 100% safe online, but these guidelines will help minimize the risk of fraud.

One final thought, keep yourself informed. Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC. The Federal Trade Commission in the US keeps a watchful eye out for the latest scams and posts them here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

 

cybersecurity myths

Exposing Myths in Cybersecurity

cybersecurity myths

Exposing Myths in Cybersecurity

Add-a-subheading

We all know that cybersecurity is essential. Having a strong password is vital to keep confidential information protected. We know that having anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware applications keep you safe on a network or the Internet. We also know that having a correct firewall setting is quite important as well.

We are led to believe that having these precautionary measures are enough. Well, they are not. It is time to expose some of the myths of cybersecurity.

MYTH: MY ANTI-VIRUS AND FIREWALL SOFTWARE WILL SAVE ME

FACT: Despite what manufacturers say, despite what the advertisements say, despite what some of your friends tell you, no anti-virus or firewall software is 100% effective. Virus creators make malicious codes that are so advanced that an anti-virus application is not yet capable of handling an attack from it.

Despite the regular updates released by anti-virus software companies, they cannot foresee what kinds of viruses will come out next month or the month after that. They can only provide their customers with protection based on the virus that they know and the potential virus that could come out.

HABIT: The best way to have a degree of protection is to combine the technologies together. Have separate anti-virus software installed and keep a strong firewall active.

It is also important to know that you cannot install an application and forget about it. You will need to get the patches or updates that manufacturers release. These patches or updates are fixes on some little or sometimes big inconsistencies or bugs in the application. For anti-virus software, this update is essential as it may contain the latest virus signature.

Turn on automatic updates to receive updates whenever manufacturers release a new version or an upgrade of the system.

Additionally, look at your security settings. Your emails, web browsers, and other applications all have specific settings that increase the security allowing them to block malware attacks.

MYTH: IT CAN'T HAPPEN TO ME or I'M NOT IMPORTANT TO HACKERS

FACT: Hackers and identity thieves will grab any opportunity that they come across. If they can get your personal information easily, they will do so and think about how they can use it for their personal gain.

Don't believe that just because you have mainly personal and insignificant information in your computer that it’s not worth protecting at all. Please bear in mind that what you think is not important can turn out to be quite useful for hackers. Every bit of information you have on your computer, email, or any other system can be manipulated and used by hackers to access more of your confidential information or use it to gain some profit. Even if you keep your files in a computer not connected to any network, the one that a hacker gains access to can be used to attack other computers or cause problems with other systems.

HABIT: Part of building a good habit is to identify how your information can be accessed and who would be the most likely people who can gain from accessing your confidential files. It’s like identifying the usual suspects in a criminal line-up. I’m not saying that the people you know cannot be trusted but it helps to be extra cautious. Your brother might not do something untrustworthy but his friends' might and if they have physical access to your computer then your files are at risk of being hacked.

Lock your computer with a good password. Use combinations of letters and numbers, upper case and lower case, and even use codes. Avoid using the usual birthdays, social security numbers, bank PINs, account numbers, favorite superheroes, favorite food, etc. Use unique passwords and make one up for every system that requires authentication. Do not use the same password in all your confidential files.

MYTH: MY FILES ARE SAFE

FACT: Do not forget about power surges and other technological problems. Even though the virus and hacker threats are real and sometimes the priority, people forget that sometimes power surges or breakdown of computer hardware can cause loss of data or have files corrupted and rendered unusable. It may not seem as critical as having your personal information exposed to the world, but the loss could be just as devastating to you personally.

HABIT: Use surge protectors to protect you from power surges and invest in a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) to allow you to back up or shut down your computer properly preventing possible corruption of files and applications.

And speaking of backing up, make it a habit to regularly back up your files just in case the unthinkable happens.

Cybersecurity is not at all that difficult. Once you have incorporated it into your system then it can be as normal as walking. All you need is to learn how you can make it work well and build a good habit to make cybersecurity consistent.

By doing this you have a better chance of keeping your confidential information protected from attacks, and keep your personal information safe.

cybersecurity at homeFor more information on how to keep your cyber world safe, check out our "Cybersecurity at Home"  e-course coming in September!

Join now so you don't miss the special launch day discount!! And grab the FREE gift available to download immediately!

hacker, online security

10 Tips to Keep Your Online Environment Safe

hacker, online security

10 Tips to Keep Your Online Environment Safe

Add-a-subheading

School is starting up again, and for many students, they will be learning in a hybrid situation, meaning part of the time in the classroom and part of the time at home, remotely.  With mom and dad working from home, and kids attending virtual classrooms, we need to make sure the online environment is safe and secure against those wishing to cause harm.

Let's face it; we live in a very technological world. A world of smartphones, smart homes, smart cars; and we can find at least one or more devices connected to the Internet in more than 90% of households.  According to a study by Deloitte, U.S. households have an average of 11 devices!

"a significant increase in connected devices,” ... Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. telecom and media and entertainment leader at Deloitte

There is a lot of new opportunities for hackers. New ways to enter your home virtually and steal your data, your personal information, and even spy on you! You can protect yourself significantly just by following these ten tips.

1. Stay Off Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi is not secure and is a hacker's playground. They can set up a look-a-like network, hoping you'll connect to it, they can intercept your data, and even create fake Wi-Fi access points. Once you've connected to their network, they can see what you see—going to check your balance in your checking account? And now, they have your password and account information. They can also get any information you have stored on your device. When you're out of the house and need to connect, it's always better to use your service provider's network. There may be a fee, but what is your data worth to you?

2. Use a VPN

Maybe you're in public often and rely on public Wi-Fi? If so, I suggest signing up for a virtual private network (VPN) to ensure your data is safe on an unsecured network. Many VPN providers have free trial periods. TechRadar lists the Best VPN Services in 2020. Your Internet Service Provider may also have a VPN service as well.

Data Protection
TechRadar - The best VPN service 2020

3. Best Router Practices

I really wish router manufacturers would require manual set up rather than being ready-to-use right out of the box. The default router settings are very common, it's like using "password" for your password. We'll talk about that later. So what are some of the things you can do to make your router secure?

  • Rename the admin account and change the password
  • Create a unique network name (SSID), do no use the default name
  • Turn on encryption, use WPA2
  • Hide your network from anyone doing a random search
  • Place your router in a central location, away from windows and doors, and exterior walls.

4. Use Complicated Passwords

Avoid simple passwords. Using “password” might be easy for you to remember, but that is the first word a hacker will try. Most sites now require a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Creating a complicated password is a good rule of thumb, even if the site doesn’t require it.  In general, a good password is at least eight characters long, but the longer, the better. The best password is 25 characters.  Another good practice is to form a password from a phrase. For example, you can create t1$!C4gtMpSd from “This is so I can’t forget my password.” You can use multiple methods to help you form unique and cryptic passwords.

5. Use a Firewall

Most routers will contain a built-in firewall that will protect and prevent any network attacks from intruders.  The default setting is typically disabled, so be sure to confirm that your router's firewall is on.

6. Keep Security Software Updated

Just like technology moves at a fast pace, so does malware. Your Anti-Virus and malware software is only as good as the latest update. If you are not updating regularly, you are putting your computer and any other device on your network at risk. I recommend setting a schedule for the updates to run, preferably during non-peak usage times, as they can be resource-heavy.

7. Protect All Connected Devices

Your computer is not the only device at risk. Keyloggers, spyware, viruses, etc. can also infect your smartphone, Xbox, Playstation, tablet, iPad, pretty much anything connected to your network is at risk and must be protected.

Ensure all devices are behind your home router/firewall to protect them from unrestricted access from the Internet.

8. Scan External File Storage

Run your anti-virus scan on all USB drives and other external file devices before you open any files. Keyloggers are often passed on by a thumb drive. You open the infected file and it secretly installs on your computer and sends every keystroke to the hacker.

9. Look for the S 

Always make sure you are on a secure site before transmitting any personal or sensitive information. Just look at the address bar for the locked padlock, and make sure the website address has an S. For example, http://notsecure --> https://secure

10. Backup! Backup! Backup!

Perform regular backups. How often you schedule the backup to run depends on how often you make changes or add files. Having a backup is not just good common sense, but it can save you a lot of time and trouble should you ever be faced with a ransomware attack. I store all my backups in the cloud, and on an external drive.  I do a full back up monthly, and nightly file backups. Take it from someone who has lost all their information, it can happen to you!