Cybersecurity for beginners l 7 cyber security tips for your Grandparents

Cybersecurity Tips Your Grandparents Can Understand

The devices, apps, and websites we use to interact with the internet leave us vulnerable to hackers and scams.

Because of this you can never be a hundred percent safe with your personal data when you’re online.

However, there are tools and concepts available to help protect ourselves in an increasingly digital world.

In this article we will address some problems and solutions currently being employed.

When considering your own cyber security, remember certain people are more likely to be targeted than others.

We must all determine our own level of risk and do what makes sense for our personal situation.

Cyber security tip #1: Passwords

Passwords are one of the oldest forms of security.

Almost every website that stores customer information first asks for some kind of login credentials.

This means that for most of us there are far too many usernames and passwords to keep track of without help.

We suggest you use a password manager like LastPass or Dashlane to store your login information.

These apps generate hard to crack passwords and store them in the encrypted areas of their sites.

Even if the company is hacked your information should still be safe from being stolen.

This way you only have to remember one password, not fifty. In addition to protecting your login credentials make sure to use two-factor authentication when possible on any site.

Be aware that SMS messages are far less secure than using a two-factor app like Google Authenticator or Authy.

Cyber security tip #2: Public Wifi

Because wifi is everywhere, we underestimate how simple it is for a hacker to hijack our data simply by being on the same network as us.

A basic firewall activated on your device can keep out many of these attacks, but not all.

Consider using a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt your data and IP address when on a public wifi or hotspot.

If possible, you should also avoid doing financial transactions or sending any sensitive info until you are in a more secure location.

Cyber security tip: #3 The Lens in Your Living Room

Any lens or microphone can be used by a stalker or government agency to monitor your behaviour.

Devices that can spy on us include your friendly smart phones, computers, tablets, smart tvs, pet cams, smart speakers, and the list goes on.

It’s not uncommon for there to be six cameras or more in a one bedroom apartment with only two residents.

Be mindful of what you do in front of any machine that can record video.

A crude but effective way to protect yourself from these prying eyes is to cover the lenses on your devices with tape or angle them towards walls when not in use.

In addition to cameras, microphones can capture everything we say without us being aware.

Most virtual assistants including the Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri are always listening.

There are many apps that utilise cellphones’ audio recording functions to spy and collect data on their owners.

An example of this is Ultra-Sonic Tracking, a type of malware that records high-frequency sounds imperceptible to the human ear.

These apps enable marketers to record people’s TV habits and listen in on what products they talk about buying.

Recently Ultra-Sonic Tracking has been banned from the Android and Apple app stores. But there are several more like this.

But other threats are sure to emerge.

Guard your private moments and if you wish to avoid being recorded, store your phone in a drawer, under a cushion, or in an insulated box.

Cyber security tip #4: Social Media

Despite taking precautions against hackers, many people willingly post personal info on social media without realising how these details can be used against them.

Posting “Check In’s” allows others to track your commute or current location.

Tagging places and people can reveal your address or the names of your loved ones.

If you take photos on your iPhone be aware that the image files contain EXIF metadata.

This info contains the file’s geolocation and time stamp available to hackers who can download the photos from Instagram or Facebook.

You can disable this data with apps like viewEXIF, but there is no app for oversharing.

When in doubt about what to post on a platform always err on the side of caution.

Cyber security tip #5: Your Circle

People in your family, work, and social circle can also put your cybersecurity at risk.

Huge corporations have been taken down by hackers targeting the device of a CEO’s child for example.

Using knowledge of a person’s relatives or friends in tandem with social media allows hackers to create malware that is personalised for the victim.

This level of attack may be extreme for an average person.

But if you are at high risk because of your career or associations it’s worthwhile to take extra steps to safeguard your identity.

Cyber security tip #6: Your Digital Past

If enough of your information is stolen, the actual hack that affects you may occur many years after the initial crime has occured.

Certain criteria like your Social Security number stays the same for your entire lifetime.

This number could be stolen in a mass hack without you knowing.

Then sold five years later to a hacker who steals your identity.

Even if you patched the original hole in your security years before, if your SS# is out on the darknet, you are at risk.

The best thing we can do is take our security into our hands now to safeguard against any future hacks to the best of our abilities.

We can also use credit monitoring services that will hopefully alert us to fraud before much damage is done.

Cyber security tip #7: Protect Yourself

Some hackers cast a broad net.

Emailing and posting malware to tens of thousands of addresses and websites.

But there are also those that create fake identities and pose as friends or kind strangers.

These scams target especially vulnerable demographics of people.

The groups most taken advantage of are often the most marginalised in society.

The elderly, the handicapped, the lonely, and the unemployed are all targeted by scams promising true love, miracle cures, or high paying careers.

By tapping into people’s dreams and emotions, scam artists override much of the common sense that keeps users safe.

A final note of warning comes from the age-old “if it looks too good to be true…” adage.

Do not click blindly or give out your private details simply because someone tells you what you want to hear.

In Conclusion

We live in a brave new world.

Even if you take every precaution, the reality is you can still be hacked.

Much like your safety and well being in the physical world, protecting yourself is your responsibility.

Spend a few hours to set up or check your own security methods. Run your updates, guard your passwords, and be conscious of what images, hashtags, and posts you choose to share with the world.

These are all precautions that you can take on an individual level.

But in the wider digital world we live in, most of us are sharing our data with several centralised bodies. Think of how much information you’ve shared with Uber, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn — and the list goes on.

Many of these organisations have been hacked and a single point of failure. Why? Because they are centralised bodies often targeted by hackers.

The Pillar Project is a not for profit movement to rethink ownership of personal data and return it to the hands of the user. Learn more about how we’re building a token wallet that will evolve to become your personal data locker.