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Note to Dad: The nuts and bolts of cybersecurity

By Reason Cybersecurity

on Sun Jun 06 2021

Dear Dads,

As Father’s Day approaches and you prepare for tasty outdoor barbecues, fun family gatherings, plenty of Father’s Day gifts, and of course, your famous dad jokes, there’s one more thing you need to prepare for: your digital security. Nowadays, our digital security must be viewed as a key component of our emotional and even our physical security. The good news is that you don’t need to be a cybersecurity expert or dust off the old toolbox to fix anything. You just need to get the nuts and bolts down. So with that in mind, here are some of the nuts and bolts of cybersecurity.

Passwords are a simple way to increase your security
Books could be written on the importance of passwords and how to make them stronger (actually, books have been written on password security), but the important thing to know here is that passwords are your first line of defense against unauthorized access to your computer. The other important thing to know is that it’s not hard to make them stronger. Here’s what you need to do:

Don’t use personal information in your passwords like your birthday, dog’s name, or street name.
Do make your passwords unique. Avoid using the same ones across different accounts.
Don’t share them. With anyone. You never know when that ‘anyone’ might share them with someone else.
Do make them complex. Passwords should include at least 10 characters, upper and lowercase alphanumeric characters, and non-alphanumeric characters.
And periodically, but not regularly, change your passwords. (Hint: Use a password manager to help you keep track of all your passwords.)

Download danger
Today, downloads are a part of life. They’re so routine, we often download files without thinking about it, but that’s a mistake, and it’s a mistake with potentially huge consequences. Downloads from unsafe sources can deliver malware, viruses, Trojans, and an assortment of other cyber threats directly to your computer. Once executed, your computer and your data are exposed to cyber criminals. Make safe downloading a priority. Whenever you download, keep these tips in mind:

Download from reputable sources only.
Scan files for malicious intent before you download them (most antivirus software let you scan files to check for threats before you download them).
Avoid file extensions like .exe or .scr, which are considered dangerous to download.
Refuse prompts to download bloatware, which often comes in the form of unnecessary applications or toolbars. The prompts to install them usually occur during the download or installation process (even with legitimate downloads).

Antivirus software
One software you DO want to download is a well-known, quality antivirus software. The purpose of antivirus software is to protect your computer and data from malware, viruses, ransomware, adware, phishing (no ‘phish and chips’ for you this year!), spam, and other online cyber threats. Look for an antivirus solution that also provides microphone and camera protection to prevent hackers from spying on your private conversations.

Stay updated
We’re not talking about the latest trends and fashions. We’re talking about software. Software updates are vital to computer security. They are what provide the patches to software vulnerabilities that hackers are so keen to exploit. Antivirus software should also be updated regularly (most advanced AV software updates automatically) so that it’s always working with the latest virus database.

Be a scam detective
Knowing how to recognize scams is important too. And once you understand what to look for, it’s not hard to do.

Check the sender’s address to see that it’s someone on your contact list.
Avoid clicking on links and opening attachments that you weren’t expecting even if they look like they’re from someone trustworthy.
Look for spelling and grammar mistakes, and be wary of requests for personal details, which are frequent scam indicators.
Use browser protection to stop you from surfing to malicious URLs.

Avoid public Wi-Fi
It’s convenient, free, and easy to access – everything you could want in a service. Everything, that is, but the part that puts you at greater risk of cyber attacks. Hackers can use unsecured Wi-Fi to steal your passwords, install malicious software, and compromise your data. If you must use public Wi-Fi, make sure you use a virtual private network (VPN) which encrypts data traveling to and from your device to make it harder for bad actors to access your private information.

And last but not least
Have a happy, safe, and secure Father’s Day – in real time, of course!

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