Basic Online Safety for Working Adults
Basic online safety The internet and the online world can be accessed from anywhere thanks to wireless technology. But as beneficial as the internet can be, the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi must be heeded, “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.”
A few months ago I was asked to try and access a laptop that was part of an investigation. The person was trying to determine who the laptop belonged to so it could be returned. Without any knowledge beyond the story of what was going on, the laptop itself, and a laptop bag I was able to successfully guess the password on the 2nd try. It takes very little knowledge beyond some social engineering skills to successfully target a person (or a laptop) and glean additional information that can lead to identity theft, cyber bullying/stalking, fraud, or other cyber crimes.
Without further corny quotes from SciFi movies, here are a few tips you can use to stay safer online.
Create Good Passwords with Multi-Factor Authentication
Make your passwords personal to you but, do not use personal information. Seems contradictory, but it’s easy to make a password out of song lyrics out can’t get out of your head and some other fun bits. Who doesn’t know the words to Don’t Stop Believing by Journey? You could be a Sma11T0wnGrl L1vinInAL0n3lyWrld SheT00kdm1dn1ghtTrn GoinNEwh3r3. You sang that didn’t you?! Where available use 2 Factor Authentication, typically a password of your choosing and then a separate code that’s issued to you via text on your cell. While it may seem cumbersome, even if someone guessed your password, they would not be able to access your account without the text message code.
Safeguard Your Privacy
According to the FBI, the average victim of internet crime is between the ages of 30 and 50, male, and deceived through either through emails or to a lesser extent, fraudulent websites. You can never be sure of who you are facing online. Never assume that you are safe, even on legitimate sites.
Legitimate sites are as much a haven for criminals as law abiding citizens. Take the precautions you have available to you like never disclosing your full name, or any other identifying information when posting online. Never giving out names of family or friends that could be used to identify you. Historical information such as where you have lived previously or the high school you went to can narrow you down from a host of other people. Don’t use a nickname that could ID you, such as HBGambulancechaser or PSUmomof2. When those online names are used in conjunction with other information, you may be easy to find.
If you use Facebook or other Social Media make sure your information is set to private so only your accepted friends will see what you post. Use a different name (nickname or professional name) on your account. Don’t list or post your contact information on your profile. When you go on vacation, resist posting about your vacation until you come home – don’t tell the criminal element you’re not home but your valuables are! Be smart about what you post. If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online. Same goes for questionable photos. If your grandma wouldn’t be proud of the photo of you slamming home your 8th shot of tequila – maybe a future employer wouldn’t be impressed either.
At work, you have antivirus on your PC. You should have the same protection at home. 3rd Element is partnered with Webroot. Webroot offers a mobile version for your devices as well. Have something to protect your data as well as a good backup.
Handy little devices for always being in touch, but insidious little devices when they are being exploited. Encrypt your phone! If you have a passcode on your iphone, it’s encrypted. If you don’t, have a passcode, do it now. It is that important. If you have an Android, encrypting your phone takes more time. You’ll need your phone charger and an episode of something on Netflix. It will take an hour or so to fully encrypt your phone. Why encrypt it? It makes the data on the phone unreadable, important if you store your entire life on your phone.
Don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t know – telemarketers and robocalls have moved to cell numbers. If it’s important the caller will leave a message. Same with texts. Don’t text back if you don’t know who the text came from. Don’t give out your phone number. Unless it’s a legitimate use for someone who needs your info, just because someone asks you for your number doesn’t mean you have to give it out.
Tech Support Scams
Scams come in multiple variations. The scam may be a phone call claiming to be from Microsoft, or a pop up online. Maybe it’s an email or a text. No matter what variant it is, it’s fraud. Microsoft doesn’t know who you are or what type of operating system you’re running. If you do get a popup advising you to call a number to fix the issue, chances are if you simply reboot it will clear it out. If you feel better, give us a call we can look at it with you.
I’ll end this post the same way I began it, with another quote from Obi-Wan, “In my experience, there is no such thing as luck.” Having the information to stay safe is far more effective than blind luck. There are too many ways to be a victim online these days. Keep yourselves safe!
If you’d like additional information, or want to attend a cyber security event contact us.