Strengthen Your Cyber Security: Eight Steps To Keep Your Information Secure

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If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past 10 years you would have realised the internet has a lot of information on you and I. While we are partly to blame, our necessary processes, functions and tasks are also to blame for this. You need to be increasing your cyber security and  preparing your mobile devices to defend against intruders, hackers and thieves who seek access all of this information.

I pay my power bills online, much like you would, this means that not only do I access my bank account online, but I also have my address, my power consumption, my photos, my savings account, my work emails, my everything, all online at the grasp of any net-savvy person that wants to dig a little deeper.

And that’s the problem, it’s so common for people to have stolen credit card information, hacked bank accounts, social media accounts and anything else that hackers want. If you don’t believe me, you can take a look at the Dark Web’s second-best selling product after drugs. It’s not guns and it’s not porn. It’s bank account details and credit card information.

With the right access, someone could set any of us back to zero. They could put us right back in the dark ages. But as real preppers we enjoy prepping for the worst. So many of you, just like me, use the internet for your purchases, your communities and some of you use it for your work. So let’s make sure we have the right preparations in check to defend our digital castle.

Passwords (you should change it right now)

Passwords are the key to the front door of your house. The problem is, even though you may have your own baseball bat to stop real intruders, when someone has your password to a digital account, they are effectively invisible. This is why sites like Facebook, Twitter and others are tracking your commonly accessed browser and IP address. In the event that an unknown IP address and different browser accesses your account, they notify your email immediately allowing you to take action or to allow that access.

When it comes to writing passwords, while all house keys are different, computer passwords allow hackers to generate random passwords and enter any account they want. They can also upload a ‘trojan horse’ or keylogger on your system and track every key that is typed in. This means that if you have a password like !!IamMARRiedtoASOUperman2086!! then you are up sh-t creek. No matter how tough your password is they have logged it and got it.

A number of internet security professionals are recommending passwords should be set as a unique identifying phrase. Something like ‘I walked with 3 dogs to a circus when I was 13.’ This is a memory or something significant to you that only you have. It is also something that is difficult to generate from social media access which is where hackers get a lot of information about you such as your mother’s maiden name, your first car, your first pet, or your best friend’s name.

Ensure your computers and devices are kept up-to-date with the latest patches and updates.

I often update my systems whenever there is a new update. Often times these updates include new security fixes against bugs or trending worms and viruses that may be popular right now. So ensuring your system is up-to-date to battle those would-be enemies is a primary prepper step.

Most Windows and Mac computers conduct auto-updates whenever there is one available, however, just to make sure you haven’t skipped one recently, give it a go now. On a Windows system, simply go to your start button and click ‘check for updates’. If you are on a mac system, simply click the apple icon in the top left and ‘about this mac’, in that box you will see a ‘software update’ button. If you’re on a mac you should also look at using the first aid option. To use this, visit applications > utilities > disk utility and enable the ‘first aid’ option. This will solve any problems your disk currently has.

This also complies to your phone, make sure it is kept updated as the phone is generally used as much as a computer for personal finances, social media and other identity matters.

Choose the right configurations for your cyber security

When you’re cruising around on the internet you don’t want to leave your front and backdoor open at the same time, you never know who is going to make their way in. Keeping yourself secure when you’re doing any online activity is paramount so makeCyber security sure you set your browser to the right settings.

It is also a good idea to get to know what these do, as generally you will get warnings when you visit certain sites, especially if you have your security settings cranked to the max. This will be like alarms going off even if your neighbours are knocking at the door, so you want to make sure they are reasonable.

If you don’t know anything about web security, then set it to a maximum setting or get someone who has a pretty decent knowledge to help you out. If your kids are using the internet, it is also advisable to do the same and have the settings password protected. A lot of children get scammed with sites pertaining to Minecraft that ask for account details and then have their details stolen, so to avoid fake sites misleading your children, get to know your security settings.

Get that firewall up and running

The firewall is effectively the gate to your front yard with a bulldog sitting in it. It’s going to stop access to your system from anyone looking to penetrate your security settings. Essentially firewalls control internet traffic coming into and flowing out of your system. If your friends visit and they are known by your bulldog, then they can come in. If it’s a stranger, no way. There are a lot of good firewall providers out there. Make sure you get a good one.

Antivirus and anti-malware in cyber security

Okay so someone has passed the fence, the bulldog, the lock on your front door and now they are in. Time to pull out that old base bat you’ve been keeping called antivirus software. This is the last line of defence and while some people still operate without it, if you’re doing as much as I do online, you’re going to want to keep one around.

Mobile devices: they are just as valuable as your wallet/handbag

Don’t doubt it, a mobile phone stores a lot more than you think, but it is also a lot more easy to steal from a mobile than you think too.

There are various methods that hackers use to access your smartphone. The first line of defence you have, and undoubtedly the most common one, is to have a pin to enter on your start screen. This is the simplest and most easiest way to protect your Cyber securityinformation from any thieves or hackers. If they enter the passcode wrong on an iPhone for instance, you get a minute to answer again, if it is wrong, you get two minutes, then three minutes and so forth.

Thieves have caught onto this passcode lock system and some savvy robbers have even asked people if they could borrow their phone to call their mum, only to have you unlock the home screen and then have your phone stolen. In times like this you want to have a locator on your phone. There are so many companies out there tracking your phone, wouldn’t it be worth doing it yourself just to be able to get it back when it is stolen? If you have an iphone, in-built software in ‘Find my Phone’ already allows for this.

If you are also a bit more advanced and wear a smart watch, an unknown benefit to having one of these is the Bluetooth warning you can receive on Apple Watch and Android Wear. Essentially it notifies you if you immediately lose Bluetooth contact with your phone. Why is this good? If you’re in a public place and you’ve just been pickpocketed, a shaking on your wrist will let you know. You can use the phone searcher to follow your phone’s location and track down the offender.

“Hello, I am a Nigerian Prince and want to give you money”

Chances are, unless you live in Nigeria and personally know some line of royalty, this one is a scam. We’ve all seen these types of emails. In fact, a lot of email software providers have these keywords as in-built junk-email filters so sadly you won’t get to hear from many Nigerian princes anytime soon.

In my inbox today I have a number of these, here’s some:

  • New deposits have been made: all you have to do is click here (I don’t have an account)
  • Please collect your amazon gift card from Amazon (email address is: goodlock@andex.ru (Russian address)
  • Your monthly statement is available, log in to view (no account with them)
  • You’ve reached your credit limit, please log in to pay before penalty date (from a Russian email address)
  • VictoriaBridges – You have a new sweetheart (nope)
  • Can I meet you (from email justfree@offers-online.mydns)
  • Want to date me? (nope)
  • ATTENTION: Reminder you have a pending payment (britishnewsclub.com – great)
  • Steve from Bitcoin Ltd – Get your free bitcoins (sure, I’ll take $2000 thanks)

As you can see, there’s a lot of these and a lot of different approaches to scamming. Do not click on these. The best thing that can happen is that a link from that email attaches a cookie to your browser and allows it to send more crap to your email. The worst thing? It could be one of the mentioned keyloggers or backdoor viruses I mentioned before that basically mess your life up through your computer. The best remedy to these emails is to mark them as junk email and delete them, that way they are permanently filtered into your junk email.

Start filling in the information leaks in your social accounts

Remember that one time when you really wanted play a game of pool over Facebook and you had to allow some application to have access to your Facebook. You made sure nothing would be posted on your wall, but that’s not good enough. That app has access to everything you do. The same for Twitter, Pinterest, Email, your tv, your dog, well maybe the dog is okay, but the rest needs to be reviewed.

A lot of your sensitive data is being trawled through by loads of companies already, but just in case one has a security leak, the best chance you have of it not being your account is to review what is necessary.

The first thing to do is to check your social accounts for any unwanted activity, this is basically a list of where you have logged into your account and on what device. If you see something odd here, do a refresh of all devices which logs all devices out. Then change your password.

Here is a list of where you can view login places and devices:

Facebook

Twitter

Google

Next you should be reviewing all of the third-party apps that are connected to your social accounts. If you don’t use them, boot them.

If you’ve taken these eight steps, you’re well underway to deal with any hacker or virus that comes walking past your house. You’ve got a bulldog waiting at the fence to determine whether they are friend or foe, you’ve got a super lock on your front door and if that’s not enough, you’re standing right behind that door with a big baseball bat.

Don’t let hackers steal your information and ruin your life. Be prepared.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic!