Too many folks think security doesn’t apply to them. I’m too smart to let that happen to me… I don’t use computers enough to care about security… I’m just a stay-at-home mom, what would the bad guys go after me for? The fact is, we ALL use computers EVERY SINGLE DAY – from smartphones to iPads, from self-checkout stations at Kroger to voting machines. We all have personal data stored on servers including our health records, our driving history, our credit card purchases, all of our social media statuses. None of us can say we are too this or too that to care about security. We all must work to improve our security awareness, so we’ve put together this simple list to help you (and your family!) be more security savvy!
1. Take advantage of Social Media
You already follow 200 people on Twitter, so add in a couple more to get your daily dose of security. Find some reputable folks such as @secawareco, @SCMagazine, @SaferInternetEU and @humanhacker to get some good information to educate you and keep you in the know! Same thing for Facebook and LinkedIn – find some security companies to follow so you can get great security news, tips & tricks and such. You won’t even have to go in search of the info because it’ll just be in your daily newsfeed. We recommend Liking us, The Security Awareness Company, Cyber Security & Ethics & Stuff, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and KnowB4.
2. Talk to your Kids
Whether your kids know more about computers than you, or it’s the other way around, you guys should talk. Find out what they do when they’re online. Discuss the risks of posting too much information on social networks. Ask them if they know how to tell if an email is real or legit. Kids under the age of 18 have their identities stolen all the time, and some kids even put their families at risk through risky online behavior. You wouldn’t let your kids run rampant around the neighborhood without knowing where they are, would you? Then why let them run around online without knowing what they’re doing? You might find that you can learn from each other during these conversations too 🙂 A win-win scenario, if you ask us.
3. Find a Geek 🙂
We’re the geeks in our families, so we often talk to our relatives and friends about all this stuff – password length, the importance of backing up, not posting too much info online, the risks of clicking without thinking. We know you know a geek like one of us – someone who works (or plays!) with technology and maybe understands it a little more than you – so instead of changing the topic the next time s/he starts talking about VPNs and the best wireless routers, pick their brain for advice, tips & tricks, and other tidbits of knowledge. You’d be surprised how much you can learn just over a casual lunch conversation.
4. Don’t just click!
Stop clicking! Read. Think. Assess. Did your grandma really send you this email about pharmaceuticals? Did your ex-wife really send you that message about refinancing the house? Did you really buy that watch on ebay? Phishing emails are getting better, looking more and more like legit emails, so we’ve all got to be on our best, most aware behavior. When in doubt, delete. If it’s a real email, they can resend.
5. Back up!
We can’t say this enough times. Back up all of your important data. All of your photos. All those home videos. Back them up once, twice, even three times. Have a physical backup (like an external drive, or burning files to DVDs) and have an online or cloud backup (like Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive, Box.com, iCloud, etc.) Until you’ve experienced the pain of a hard drive failure, you won’t understand the need for so much redundancy in your backup options, but we’re trying to keep you from having to go through that. Don’t lose that novel you’re working on, those photoshop painting, the video of your daughter taking her first steps. Backup, backup, and backup again!
6. Don’t sell yourself short
“I’m too old to learn about computers.” “I’ve never understand techie stuff.” “I’m not smart enough to get it.” “I’m not very technical so I can’t do that.” We’ve heard every variation of the “I’m too…” argument and we say stop selling yourself short, stop assuming you can’t. You CAN. You don’t have to be super technical to understand the basics. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. If you can navigate the murky social media waters, you can learn the risks and how to protect yourself. If you can use email, you can learn to recognize a phishing scam. If you can talk on the phone, you can learn to recognize pretexting and social engineering attempts. If you can get online, you can google things to learn more in order to protect yourself, your data, your family and your company.
7. Talk to Others
Have a question? Ask a coworker. Need clarification? Pose the query to your Facebook friends. Talk to your gamer nephew, your network admin, that cute girl who runs the IT desk. Talk to your coworkers and your friends, share your experiences (good and bad). If my friend got her email account hacked, I’d want her to tell me about it, so I can learn from the experience, change my password and be more proactive in my awareness instead of having my email hacked as well. If I lost all of my college photos, I’d tell all my twitter followers about my mistake so they wouldn’t have to suffer my same pain. Change your password often! Backup every day! We have so many ways to communicate with each other, let’s take advantage of them so we can all learn from each other.