Cyber Security for Previous Generation

  • Own & Protect Identity
  • Assess Access Vulnerability
  • Limit Online Footprint
  • Social Media Safety
  • Clean-up Footprint
  • Weigh Economics
  • Question Authority
  • Phishing is an attack that exploits regularly used communication channels where the bad actor pretends to be someone you trust so they can steal information or money.
  • Spoofing in phone calls is changing the caller ID to look like a number you would trust or an email header that looks like it came from someone you trust like a bank.
  • Identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else’s identity to gain financial or other advantage in the person’s name.

Own & Protect Identity

  • Sign up for core accounts especially financial, utilities and healthcare that haven’t been set up to prevent malicious actors signing up and taking advantage. (esp. Social Security to prevent identity theft)
  • Setup a password manager to centralize the passwords and make it easier to track, update and share/manage remotely. As my mom forgot things she only had to keep track of a single password to get access to all of her passwords which kept her independent a lot longer. Note, keeping passwords written on paper can be ok in some cases. Assess your situation and where there are vulnerabilities with that approach.
  • Make sure password(s) and login details are stored somewhere someone you trust in your life can access. When my father passed, I struggled to figure out how to get into his account and never fully unlocked his computer.
  • Add extra layers of complexity and protection for logins:
    - Vary usernames (change for each account)
    - Use random, long, diverse passwords and change for every site
    - Setup 2FA (factor authentication) w/ at least text but try for FIDO
    - Use fake answers for security question

Assess Access Vulnerability

  • Install tech patches and updates when they come out. I would do this regularly when visiting my mom in the past. Better yet, automate the updates
  • Redirect communication channels for your review. When I found my mom had been shoving her unopened mail into drawers for months, I permanently forwarded it to my home which you can do through USPS.
  • Use VirusTotal to scan suspicious links. Most of us don’t click links anymore but if you have one you want to click it can assess the link.
  • Open & send attachments in GoogleDrive. It has virus scanning features and allows you to remove access permissions if needed.
  • Turn off image loading for email.
  • Setup security cameras for monitoring and protection. I know this gets into an interesting discussion but your call for your situation. I installed cameras at the doors into my mom’s house a year into suspecting her illness. First, it helped me see and weigh in on people she was concerned about. It transition into a way to check on her as she became more confused especially when trying to get her to stop driving (it was like having a teenager).

Limit Online Footprint

  • incognito browser
  • VPN (virtual private network)
  • HTTPS Everywhere
  • browser extensions and plugins to minimize footprint (caution on what browser plugins & phone apps because they also capture data)

Social Media Safety

  • What have you shared?
  • What have others in your life shared?
  • What content is in the photos you are sharing that someone can exploit?
  • Think before publishing.
  • Discuss with friends and family what & how to share.
  • Limit connections because you don’t need to link to everyone.
  • Check account privacy settings. (are you sharing and do you want to the location of tweets or FB posts or what you paid someone)

Clean-up Footprint

  • Request removing info from Data Brokers.
  • Use services to manage requesting data removal.
  • Flood the Internet with fake information about you (also known as data pollution).

Weigh Economics

Question Authority

  • Keep a healthy skepticism on info requests.
  • Question and pushback on what is “required”.
  • Know social security is usually not needed.
  • Hang-up, look-up the # & call them back when companies call. (yes, I’m deliberately repeating this one.)

Closing Thoughts

Resources:

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