Security-Awareness Begins AT HOME, And Helps Employers, Too.

Security-Awareness Begins AT HOME, And Helps Employers, Too.

To protect our identities, our hard-earned assets and our privacy, it is important to develop security-awareness in our personal and family lives. Personal awareness takes on added importance as the workplace increasingly moves to the home, where online behavior in one’s personal or family life can translate into risks for one’s employer, too.

This post recommends a mind-set and specific precautions for protecting ourselves and our families. If we follow these steps, we’ll help to protect our employers, as well.

  1. Learn to question everything.

Is this offer real, even though it seems too good to be true? Is this link legitimate? Is the sender authentic? Do I have a safe Internet connection? Am I being gullible? Attackers typically play on human emotions and expectations, using techniques called “social engineering” that exploit our natural tendencies, such as our fears, our inclination to trust others, our deference to authority, or our hopes for unexpected gain.

  1. Don’t reuse the same email address and password at multiple sites.

If you use the same login credentials at multiple sites, and any one of those sites is compromised, all of the others can be breached, too. ManyMe makes it easy to use a different email address for every account, and password managers are helpful in using different, strong passwords; using both in combination provides the best protection.

  1. Always keep your apps up to date, on both your laptop and phone.

Security updates can’t help you if you don’t install them, and if you don’t install them, you’re exposed. If you are no longer using an app, delete it, as any security holes can still provide an attacker’s entry point.

  1. Never open a file that you didn’t request or aren’t expecting.

Attackers are very adept at exploiting your natural curiosity to click on their payloads, and might even tempt you further with a theme gleaned from your social media postings. Keep things simple—if a file is unexpected, don’t open it! ManyMe helps with this by hosting attachments, and delivering them only with your explicit consent.

  1. Set-up two-factor authentication, known as “2FA,” for all of your accounts.

With 2FA implemented for an account, an attacker must know your log-in credentials AND the second factor, which is often a code sent to your mobile phone. As long as you control the device to which the second factor is sent, an attacker won’t have the “missing piece” needed to break into your account.

  1. Never use your primary email address for online registrations.

By using substitute email addresses, called aliases, you limit the spread of your primary address, vary your log-in credentials from site to site, and enjoy added security and inbox control. ManyMe makes it simple to use a different address every time you need one for impersonal, commercial purposes, and even works offline in conversation or when filling out a form.

  1. Be aware that if a product is free, YOU may be the product that’s for sale.

Some free products make money from advertisers by selling access to you—in other words, you’re the product! There’s a tradeoff here—a no-cost service on the one hand, and your privacy on the other—and while each person may weigh these values differently, it is important to understand what’s at stake. (This is less likely to be the case for products that offer a free version as a try-before-you-buy on-ramp to a paid service, as is the case with ManyMe, which doesn’t sell your personal data to anyone, ever.)

  1. Don’t share personal information with people you don’t know.

Never give a stranger your mobile number, or your street address, and never, never your payment information, even if the other party is promising a refund or deposit. This also applies to people who you’ve only known online, as you can’t be certain of their identity.

  1. Seek out products that provide greater online privacy and security.

There are lots of sources of good advice about cybersecurity products and best practices, for both technical and non-technical people, including other ManyMe blog postings and the “Cybersecurity 101” section coming soon to ManyMe’s website. There is certainly no need to become a cybersecurity expert, but an informed user is a safer user.

  1. Educate your children. In the online world, “stranger danger” still applies.

If you have children, we hope you’ll build these best-practices into their daily lives as soon as they become active online, as some exploits specifically target young people. Children today are very attuned to “social distancing” to avoid the coronavirus, and as a result may be particularly receptive to “online distancing” to avoid cyber threats, too.

Caution, not paranoia, is the watchword for online safety. We hope that these suggestions will help you avoid the most common hacker traps and enjoy safely the great advantages of online life.

Stay safe, online as well as in the physical world!