In today's digital age, cybercrime has become an increasingly prevalent threat. Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in our online systems and steal our personal information. It is more important than ever to take steps to protect ourselves from these threats. This includes practicing good cybersecurity habits like using strong passwords, keeping software up to date, and being cautious about sharing personal information online. By taking these steps, we can help prevent cybercrime and keep ourselves and our information safe.
What is Multi-Factor Authentication?
Multi-factor authentication is sometimes called two-factor authentication or two-step verification, and it is often abbreviated to MFA. No matter what you call it, multi-factor authentication is a cybersecurity measure for an account that requires anyone logging in to prove their identity multiple ways. Typically, you will enter your username and password and confirm your identity some other way, like with a fingerprint or by responding to a text message.
Why go through all this trouble? Multi-factor authentication makes it extremely hard for hackers to access your online accounts, even if they know your password.
It might seem like a lot of work, but once you set up multi-factor authentication, proving your identity usually adds just a second or two to the login process. And the peace of mind that multi-factor authentication provides is well worth it.
How does it work?
When you turn multi-factor authentication on for an account or device, your login process will require more verification.
You will be asked for your username and password.
If these are correct, you will be prompted to prove your identity another way. You might be able to set up your smartphone, for example, to use a facial scan as verification. Other online accounts might send your phone number or email address a one-time use code that you must enter within a specific time frame. Some accounts will require you to approve access with a standalone authenticator app like Duo or Google Authenticator.
Cybercriminals like to go phishing, but you don’t have to take the bait.
Phishing is when criminals use fake emails, social media posts, or direct messages to lure you to click on a bad link or download a malicious attachment. If you click on a phishing link or file, you can hand over your personal information to the cybercriminals. A phishing scheme can also install malware onto your device.
No need to fear your inbox, though. Fortunately, avoiding a scam email is easy, but only once you know what to look for. With some knowledge, you can outsmart the phishers every day.
See it so you don’t click it.
The signs can be subtle, but once you recognize a phishing attempt, you can avoid falling for it. Before clicking links or downloading attachments, take a few seconds (literally four seconds) and ensure the email looks legit. Here are some quick tips on how to spot a phishing email:
- Does it contain an offer that’s too good to be true?
- Does it include language that’s urgent, alarming, or threatening?
- Is it poorly crafted writing riddled with misspellings and bad grammar?
- Is the greeting ambiguous or very generic?
- Does it include requests to send personal information?
- Does it stress an urgency to click on unfamiliar hyperlinks or attachments?
- Is it a strange or abrupt business request?
- Does the sender’s e-mail address match the company it’s coming from? Look for little misspellings like pavpal.com or anazon.com.
Uh oh! I see a phishing email. What do I do?
Don’t worry; you’ve already done the hard part, recognizing that an email is fake and part of a criminal’s phishing expedition.
If you’re at the office and the email came to your work email address, report it to your IT
manager or security officer as quickly as possible.
If the email came to your email address, don’t do what it says. Do not click on links – even the unsubscribe link – or reply to the email. Just use that delete button.
Remember, DON’T CLICK ON LINKS, JUST DELETE.
We’ve all probably used one password to secure multiple, maybe even all, of our digital accounts. But that’s not safe and becomes even more unsafe as time passes. If your one password gets stolen from a breach, it becomes a skeleton key for your whole cyber life. This compromised password can be used to access all your accounts and sensitive information.
Passwords are the keys to your digital castle. Like your housekeys, you want to do everything you can to keep your passwords safe.
Creating, storing, and remembering passwords can be a pain for all of us online, but the truth is that passwords are your first line of defense against cybercriminals and data breaches. Also, it has never been easier to maintain your passwords with free, simple-to-use password managers. With a few moments of forethought today, you can stay safe online for years to come.
Long, Unique, Complex
No matter what accounts they protect, all passwords should be created with these three guiding principles in mind:
Every one of your passwords should be at least 12 characters long.
Each account needs to be protected with its unique password. Never reuse passwords. This way, if one of your accounts is compromised, your other accounts remain secure. We’re talking special, not just changing one character or adding a “two” at the end – to trick up hackers, none of your passwords should look alike.
Each unique password should combine upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and special characters (like >,!?). Again, remember each password should be at least 12 characters long. Some websites and apps will even let you include spaces.
One of the easiest ways to boost your cybersecurity is to keep software and apps updated.
Software and app developers daily focus on keeping their users and products secure. They’re constantly looking for clues that hackers are trying to break into their systems or searching for holes where cybercriminals could sneak in, even if they’ve never been breached before. Upstanding software companies release regular updates to fix these issues and improve security for everyone using their services.
If you install the latest updates for devices, software, and apps, not only are you getting the best security available, but you also ensure that you get access to the latest features and upgrades. However, you can only benefit if you update! Don’t fret; updating software is easy,and you can even make it automatic.
Here are four easy-to-remember tips to keep in mind regarding updates:
1. Automatic updates make your life easier
You don’t have to check your Settings tab every morning – you can usually set up automatic updates so that updates are downloaded and installed as soon as they are available from the device, software, or app creator. Note that you might have to restart your device for the updates to install fully. It is best to do this right away, but you can often schedule this tohappen when you aren’t using your device, like the middle of the night. Plenty of us stay lazy and secure – although you probably should check your software update settings every so often (quarterly is good) to ensure everything is set to your liking!
2. Get updates from the source
Before downloading anything, especially software and app updates, know the source. Only download software to your computer from verified sources, and only download apps from your device’s official app store. The device, software, or app developer itself should be sending you updates, not anyone else. And remember, pirated, hacked, or unlicensed software can often spread malware, viruses, or other cybersecurity nightmare on your network. Ruining your computer, phone, tablet, or other device isn’t worth it!
3. Don’t fall for fakes!
You’ve probably encountered suspicious pop-up windows on the web requiring you to download a software update. These are especially common on shady sites if malware is already on your machine. These are always fake – they are phishing attempts. Don’t click any buttons on these pop-ups, and close your browser. Many web browsers will warn you if you are attempting to visit an unsecured web address or one that could contain malware. Heed these warnings, and don’t take the bait!
4. Make it a habit
Even if you don’t have automatic software updates turned on, update your device, software, and apps regularly. Often, you will be notified that updates are available. Even if it is a pain to close out of your programs and restart your device, it is worth it to do this right away, especially if the update patches an urgent security flaw.
You should check your app and device settings regularly and monthly if you don’t have automatic updates turned on (although weekly is better).
Remember that updates are part of our digital lifecycle, and if you embrace them, you’ll have more peace of mind, the latest security, and the best new features!
Common Senior Citizen Scams To Know
As we age, keeping up with the latest technology can become more challenging. However, this can make us more vulnerable to scams. Seniors are often at home during the day, making them a prime target for scammers who try to trick them through phone calls or emails. It’s essential to be aware of these scams and cautious when providing personal information. Scammers will often pretend to be government officials or offer financial assistance to access our savings and credit scores. It’s important to stay vigilant and protect ourselves from these scams.