It seems like at least once a week I have an e-mail from the IRS suggesting that I increase my awareness of cybersecurity in my firm and personal life. News reports go into cyberstalking cycles where another hospital, company, school, etc. becomes a victim of ransomware. Here are my thoughts on how to increase your cybersecurity.
Don’t “Accept” Without Reading the Fine Print
Did you hit “Accept all” on cookies? Did you notice that in the fine print that they can get anything off your computer including but not limited to your location and keystrokes — TikTok from China has this especially nasty bit buried in the agreement! We get so complacent and assume that the software will be safe and that our overused passwords will protect us.
Luckily, more and more sites and apps are requiring two-factor authentication. Complex passwords are a pain in the— well, we all hate to keep up with complex passwords. Hackers are getting more and more sophisticated; therefore, it’s more important than ever to protect your passwords and digital wallets.
Practice Cybersecurity in Your Inboxes
Spam emails often look legit. Did you answer a very official job offer you received via email with all the correct company logos, contact, etc., but failed to notice the email associated with the offer is not from the relevant company? You just provided so much information that another you can be created. Yikes! There goes the security of not only your contacts, but possibly your banking, Social Security Number, address, and more.
The best way to check if the email is from a reliable source is to hover over the email address and analyze the domain name. Then, check the web and see if there is such a company and URL. Large employers often block employees from receiving emails, even from family members, on their business email as protection against Spam.
Personally, I do not open any attachments from clients on my email — instead, I require the use of my secure portal for the transmission of information back and forth. I go so far as having the emails once deleted and placed into Trash permanently deleted.
What Does that Free Wi-fi Actually Cost You?
Buildings are being made 100% “smart” for the convenience of the public. Free wifi in your coffee shops, nail salons, and really anywhere, can become powerful tools for a hacker. To ensure your cybersecurity, never use public areas to do banking, pay bills, or shop.
I use free services to download music or an e-book from my library so that I can listen and relax while getting my hair done — the best option would be to have it downloaded before entering the public space, but I am human and sometimes forget.
Strengthen Your Passwords
As for those pesky complex passwords — I have quite a simple method. I always use a phrase as my password. If symbols and numbers are required, I may substitute a number or symbol for the letter. 3 for E, $ for S, and so on. For example, for my library password, I might use the phrase “I love reading books,” but turn it into 1l0v3read1ngbo0K$. It may be a pain, but it meets the number, symbol, and capitalization requirements. Oh, and there are no two letters repeating. Cool huh? Happy surfing, buying, and downloading. Just be safe and aware — and use those cute phrases.