The internet is an excellent resource for everyone, and in these current troubling times, it has proven to be a valuable communications platform. With families and friends using various social media and video calling platforms to stay in touch with each other, the use of the internet in peoples daily lives has increased dramatically.
The criminals have been taking full advantage of this too. Over the last year of lockdowns and restricted movements, we have seen an increase in phishing emails. Scams, even simple ones, have been on the rise too. Overall the year has seen minor criminal activity on the internet than ever before.
While this is troubling, here are some simple steps to help protect yourself.
Use Two Factor
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is an option on just about everything these days. I can't say this enough, USE 2FA. While it will not 100% prevent a criminal from accessing your services, it does make it significantly more challenging. In all likelihood, the criminals will move on to someone else. It is a great deal of work to bypass the 2FA or get access to your codes.
All your passwords should be different. They should change at least every 90 days or even the slightest sign that something is wrong. We all dislike passwords, and creating a complex one means it is hard to remember. I have always recommended using three random words that you can remember, maybe separated with one of those special characters. For example:
If you want to go a step further, use a password safe. Just make sure the password to that password safe contains at least five random words.
Operating System Updates
Your computing devices are a gold mine of information, so keep them up to date. That means your laptop, PC, table and your phones. Run those updates for your operating system and try to make sure you are using your applications' latest versions. Keeping up to date means getting the latest versions with security fixes and enhanced features, so it is a win-win.
Anti-virus and anti-malware
Having an Apple does not mean you are immune to viruses. Let us get that out there. Virus and malware creators are now targetting OSX and Linux users just as much as they are targetting Windows users. Having a good quality anti-virus and anti-malware product is extremely important. Gone are the days when they slow your machines down. Now they have a tiny impact on performance, and with the sharp rise in ransomware, they are even more critical now than ever before
Things go wrong. Devices fail. They get wet or overheat, and data gets lost. Where ever you are backing up your data, do it regularly. If your backup service has an option to encrypt your backups, use it. And make sure you change the password to your backup service today.
Don't Click Emails Links
Lastly, and I really can not say this enough. STOP CLICKING ON LINKS. No one should be falling for the Nigerian 412 style scams anymore. No relative has left you a few million. But the attackers know this so now you are more likely to get an email saying your email account, Facebook or Pinterest account has been accessed by unknown persons, click this link to make sure your account is safe. Just delete it. DO NOT CLICK IT!