Personal Protection Efforts: Security Awareness for Your Personal Life


Because we’re partners with KnowBe4, we write often about security awareness training at work. But, during these “uncertain/unprecedented/strange/ challenging/difficult” (insert today’s most overused word) times, we thought we would share some PPE (Personal Protection Efforts) that you could undertake at in your personal life, too.

Some PPE Fundamentals

Passwords

Never use the same one twice. Don’t write them down. Never share them. Substitute traditional passwords with passphrases such as “welcometothepartypal!” and consider getting a password manager–software that creates, stores, and syncs all of your logins across multiple devices.

Phishing

Still the most common way cybercriminals infiltrate organizations; stay alert for phishing attacks at home. Look for red flags such as bad spelling and grammar, unrealistic promises, urgent or threatening language, and unexpected links or attachments. Remain skeptical of any request for personal information or money.

Software Updates

One of the easiest ways to prevent malware infections or data leaks is by keeping your devices and software up to date. Many software updates patch vulnerabilities that cybercriminals use to their advantage. Stay current by enabling automatic updates wherever possible.

Social Media

Did you know that scammers surf social media and other public forums to gather intelligence and build profiles of their victims? The more you share publicly, the bigger the target you become. Double check your privacy settings and only “friend” people you know.

Physical Security

Cyberattacks get all the headlines, but don’t overlook the importance of physical security. Shred sensitive documents when no longer needed. Keep an eye on your belongings when in public areas. And ensure no one can see your screen or hear your phone calls.

Security Without Paranoia

There is a difference between paranoia and preparedness. The former tends to surface in the wake of various headlines that often sensationalize data breaches and other security incidents. The latter is what we mean when we promote 24/7 security awareness – a simple understanding that scammers are everywhere and target everyone. Here’s how you can prepare for security threats without paranoia.

Paranoia: Never using a public WiFi network.

Preparedness: Always using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

Why? VPNs encrypt your internet connection making it difficult for cybercriminals to intercept and steal your data. Never connect to public WiFi without a VPN, and even then, avoid accessing highly sensitive information.

Paranoia: Never sharing any photos or updates on social media.

Preparedness: Using the security settings on your social media accounts.

Why? As a general rule, it’s best to set your social media accounts to fully private and ensure that your friends and followers are people you know and trust. It’s also smart to occasionally audit your list of friends and remove anyone you rarely connect with in real life.

Paranoia: Refusing to install apps on your smart device.

Preparedness: Researching and downloading apps from trusted sources.

Why? Malicious apps are an ongoing security issue with app stores. Do your research before installing anything and carefully review permissions and security settings after installing. Routinely uninstall apps you no longer use.

Paranoia: Frequently updating every single password.

Preparedness: Utilizing multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Why? MFA adds an additional layer of security by requiring a second code to unlock an account. This way, if a major data breach leaks your login credentials, it will still be difficult for an unauthorized person to gain access.

Is covering a webcam paranoia or preparedness?

It’s a little bit of both. We know for a fact that cybercriminals can hack webcams. So, it’s not a terrible idea to cover them. But truthfully, it’s not the webcam that gets hacked, it’s the human. In most cases, the victim clicked on something they shouldn’t have, which gave the attacker access to the victim’s camera (and microphone and likely the entire computer). Unless you’re a high-profile individual–such as a celebrity or government official–it’s unlikely you’ll be targeted (at least when you’re in the comfort of your own home).

So, don’t be paranoid. Instead, be proactive! Think before you click. Keep your apps and devices up to date. Install antivirus software on every device. And if you choose to cover your webcam, don’t use tape. Buy a cover that fits your device and won’t leave a sticky residue.

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