Summer will soon set. But you still have a chance to secure your devices and accounts before much of the world heads back to school.
Even if you aren’t a student or a parent of a student, life tends to speed up as fall approaches. And the massive list of data breaches we’ve already seen this year will only grow, as the days get shorter and our workdays get longer.
Here are few simple things you can do to make it less likely you’ll be a victim of cyber crime in the second half of 2019.
Level up your passwords
If you’re like most people, you have dozens, if not hundreds, of online accounts to secure. You can make a huge leap in your online security if you decide to stop remembering your passwords.
Any password you can remember is too weak.
Stop trusting your memory and start relying on a password manager. Cyber security pros swear by them and these lockers for your credentials are so simple anyone can use them.
Get rid of the apps you aren’t using
It’s not spring, but chances are your devices and accounts could use some cleaning.
Every app you install invites some new company into your life to trust. You have to trust that the app maker won’t use your data in ways you don’t intend, and you need to hope it is securing your information from criminals. Increase your confidence by reducing the number of people you need to trust.
Consider getting rid of any apps on your Android phone, iPhone, or tablet you haven’t used in 2019.
Now go to Facebook’s Settings. Click on Apps and Websites, and start clicking the boxes next to the apps you no longer use. Then click remove. And if you use Twitter, remove your unneeded apps there and then make sure you’re not helping Twitter share your data with advertisers.
Go two-factor—especially on your ‘smart home’ devices
Every data breach is a reminder that securing your passwords isn’t enough to secure your identity. You need to take extra steps to prevent account takeovers whenever possible.
And the most common extra step sites and services offer these days is some form of two-factor authentication. You should use it wherever it’s available, especially for your email, profiles tied to your iOS or Android devices, and any “smart home” appliance like Nest.
F-Secure Principal Security Consultant Tom Van de Wiele recommends using Google Authenticator with SMS two-factor authentication as a back-up.
“Unlike SMS, Google Authenticator can be used offline and is not prone to telecom-operator-related attacks,” he noted.
Invent some new identities
If you’ve taken all these steps, you can now try to step up your OPSEC (operational security) to the pro level.
Our Chief Information Security Officer Erka Koivunen likes to get creative when he signs up for new accounts.
“Typically when I’m using online services, I always create separate user accounts for each and every separate service, and I’ve taken the task to create those accounts on behalf of our family as well,” he said on our Cyber Security Sauna podcast. “So now I have a number of user accounts for Apple, for Facebook services, for Netflix. And I try to give as misleading information as possible to those services, so I don’t state the exact name of my children, I don’t state the true birthday and my age to the services, and I try to be really conservative about where we live.”
Just make a note of your fictional identities in case you ever need to recover your accounts. But you won’t need to write down your passwords because they’re all in your password manager now.
Cut back on the oversharing
In the early days of social media, we constantly warned each other, “Think before your post!” The idea was that you didn’t want to share anything on a social network that you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying aloud on a city bus.
Now, the oversharing we most hear about most is oversharing with all the services we use.
A flurry of privacy scandals has plagued Facebook recently. But what about all the data about your identity you’re volunteering to pass on to tech giants to use according to the sites’ terms and conditions?
F-Secure’s Data Discovery Portal helps you access the massive amounts of data Google, Apple, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Amazon all have about you.
Take a look and decide whether you think all the data you’re offering these companies in exchange for a “free” service is worth it to you.
You can’t stop fall from coming. But with a few proactive steps, you can make sure your data is more safe and secure.