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Since October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, naturally this month’s Techspert article be on topic. Here are five cybersecurity tips that you can easily apply today without paying a penny.
#1 Use 2-Factor Authentication (2FA)
There are three possible factors of authentication:
- Something you know: this includes authentications like passwords, PINs, secret questions and answers, etc.
- Something you have: a physical item you possess, like a key, a smart card, a security token, etc.
- Something you are: this involves your biometrics like fingerprint, facial recognition, voice, etc.
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, combines any two of the factors above to add an extra layer of security before giving access to a given account. The most common 2FA involves a username and password (Something you know) and a secret PIN sent to your smartphone (Something you have). In this instance, knowing your password wouldn’t be enough for someone to gain access to your account. They will also have to have your smartphone and unlock it to get that PIN.
2FA is highly recommended for your primary email and bank accounts.
#2 Protect Your Mobile Devices
Since we just learned that our smartphones are the most common second factor of 2FA, we must protect them as well – not only in the literal sense. Here are ways you can protect your smartphone:
- Use a strong PIN or password combined with your fingerprint or facial recognition.
- Enable device encryption to protect your data when your phone is locked. All iPhones and some Android devices encrypt their data by default. However, you can learn how to enable device encryption from this Microsoft website page.
- Back up your smartphone regularly to an external drive or cloud storage. Doing so gives you peace of mind if you ever find yourself in a situation where the only solution is completely erasing your smartphone, such as device loss, theft, or ransomware attack. You can always restore your data on the new device.
#3 Always Update Your Software
Yes, sometimes updates can be scary by carrying a lot of changes that will only make your device more complex than it already is. But they also have security patches to fix any discovered vulnerability from the previous version that hackers could exploit.
An easy way to stay on top of updating your device software and operating system is by enabling Automatic Update.
Above all others, be sure always to keep your Antivirus Software updated.
#4 Limit Access Permission for Apps
Nowadays, apps usually ask for more access permission than necessary. For instance, an application for taking notes shouldn’t need access to all your photos and location. Moreover, no application should have access to your location all the time, even maps. Fortunately, both iOS and Android offer ways to limit access for each app on your smartphone. The steps for changing the access permission for your apps are similar on both operating systems:
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap Privacy & Security.
- Select a permission type. If you allowed or denied this permission type to any apps, you’ll find them here.
- To change an app’s permission, tap the app, then choose your permission settings. For example, if you selected Location in the previous step, you will see all the apps currently using your location and their access level. Selecting one of the apps from the list allows you to switch its access level from Always (All the time) to While Using the App or even Never.
#5 Monitor Your Accounts Regularly
Last but not least, regularly review your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activities. You can quickly do it with online banking. The sooner you catch a suspicious activity, the better your chances to revert the damages.
But why stop at bank accounts? You should review the same way your other online accounts, like social media, Amazon, etc.
What to do next?
Check out the following Senior Planet resources that can help you stay safe online:
- Protecting Your Personal Information – On Wed. Oct 24 at 10:30 AM
- Intro to Managing Your Privacy – On Wed. Oct 30 at 12:30 PM EDT
- Ask The Techspert: Strong Passwords
- Play the Online Safety-themed crossword puzzle
Also, join the Everything Tech and Ask a Tech Expert groups on the Senior Planet Community platform to ask any tech questions you might have and discuss technologies with other like-minded individuals.
Use the comment below to share with everyone any cybersecurity tip you know! 🔒
Techspert Jonathan is Senior Planet’s Sr. Digital Community Relations and Product Specialist and a former Senior Planet San Antonio technology trainer. He is also an iOS developer with a background in Information Systems and Cyber Security.
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Jonathan, Senior Planet’s Techspert columnist, answers one of your questions every month.