It’s December and time to let your hair down. It could be a time to relax, do some reading or even take time to upskill in a new technology. Perhaps catch up with friends and family. But if you think you can completely relax just remember, your identities on-the-line(Vince Vaughn) are open and exposed for Hackers who are also using this festive time to try and steal your information, credentials, credit card numbers or just send some annoying messages on Facebook, Instagram or any other social platform.
I urge you to take not even 15 minutes of your day to ensure you protect your own Identity and that of you family. Below are my most valuable tips to secure your online presence. If you are in technology please help your Mom, Dad, Uncle, Brother with these simple tips*.
*This is in no way a complete solution and merely guidelines. It is not a guaranteed way to protect you from getting hacked.
1. Lock your Notes that contain Sensitive Information – IOS
You probably have some Notes on your phone that contain private information and you every now and then might or might not save a password in there thinking its safe. Well it isn’t. So if you phone supports it Lock your notes. Below you can see how to do it on IOS. PS. Don’t forget your lock code.
2. Download the Microsoft Authenticator App
Although this is not directly a Tool to stop hackers you will be using it to save all your MFA Accounts described in the other steps. Feel free to download any other Authenticator app you like. I just like the Microsoft One.
- Google Android. On your Android device, go to Google Play to download and install the Microsoft Authenticator app.
- Apple iOS. On your Apple iOS device, go to the App Store to download and install the Microsoft Authenticator app.
After you have installed it make sure to set it up to backup Automatically to iCloud (IOS) and email (Android)
3. Reset your Password and Enable Multi-Factor Authentication on every account you can find that supports it
You wake up one morning go onto Facebook and guess what, all your contacts have been spammed by some video in Messenger. How did this happen? Well 50 million Facebook user accounts hacked (marketingland.com) every year. Luckily there are some simple steps you can complete to secure your Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Email like Gmail, Outlook etc.
- Reset your password immediately
- Set up MFA – As an Example I will set it up on my Twitter Account below, but the process is the same for most Platforms
4. Stop sharing Sensitive information like ID Numbers and Credit Cards on WhatsApp
One of my Developer colleagues at a previous company once told me that he worked for a Social Media Company before and I was kind of disgusted after he told me the amount of access they had to Text, Images, Videos and any data that was sent by their users. So guess what all those Credit Card Numbers, ID Numbers, Personally Identifiable Information and Photos are just being stored somewhere on a Server and somebody can view it whether you like it or not.
5. If you have a bank account that Provides Virtual Cards, Create them and stop using your real card like a Specials Coupon
Many South African Banks these days give you a very easy alternative to using your Credit Card. A VIRTUAL CARD. This means you decide how much money you put in there and if it ever gets compromised because you bought something on Emazon or Ali-bay(Fake names with no relation to real companies) then you just delete your virtual card and create a new one. Your accounts aren’t drained.
6. Back up your phone whether it is Google Photos, OneDrive or iCloud, just do it
Sometimes I don’t understand how we think, We could very easily go to get Take-Out but for the same price we aren’t willing to pay for our iCloud backup storage which literally has the ability to protect our most used asset, our mobile.
You could basically back up all photos to Google Photos(free) then also back them up to OneDrive(Limited Free) and buy the 200GB Storage on iCloud($10 in US). This way if it gets stolen you do not care because you had 1000 contacts from 12 years ago that are now gone as well as you cat or hamster photos.
7. Don’t use the same password and check if your password has ever been exposed
Create strong passwords! This is mainly the reason accounts get hacked anyways. Some general password tips (How to Create a Strong Password (and Remember It) (howtogeek.com)):
- Has 12 Characters, Minimum
- Includes Numbers, Symbols, Capital Letters, and Lower-Case Letters
- Isn’t a Dictionary Word or Combination of Dictionary Words
- Doesn’t Rely on Obvious Substitutions
Secondly, go check if your passwords have ever been hacked. In some countries companies have to publish if they have been hacked, as of Today in South Africa they don’t have to, So you wont even know if your accounts were ever exposed to criminals.
and fill in your email address to see if your account was ever involved in a hack.
These tips are not as comprehensive as I could have gone into much more detail but, it is a start. We sometimes forget working in IT that our family members and friends might not think about how secure their accounts are on the internet, which is fine, but do the right thing this Festive Season and give the gift of Security. 😉