If there is one thing that the holiday seasons are known for, it’s the broken-record playlists we are subjected to wherever fine background music is played, but rather than torturing your ears with “All I want for Christmas” for the 50th time today, I’ll sing another familiar tune that starts like this, “Protect yourself before you wreck yourself.” Not quite as catchy as Mariah, and definitely not as earwormy, but you probably already know the words, because I sing this song all year long. Digital crime is up, and more and more people are falling victim to scams and the scumbags who run them.
Here’s your list, you should check it twice
- Back up your data. Preferably to a cloud-based platform that you don’t even have to remember to run. Most self-managed services come as little as $7 a month. Some of us spend more than that on coffee in a single day. Don’t want the cloud? Grab a small, portable hard drive in the multi-terabyte range and set up backups to that device. Most come with a free, downloadable backup app that will handle rudimentary backups. Not as good as cloud-based automatic backups, but better than nothing.
- Turn on 2-factor authentication for your email. This probably won’t cost you anything – even most of the free email platforms offer some form of multi-factor authentication. Yes, having multi-factor is a pain, but you know what hurts even more? Having your email account hacked and used to con friends, family and clients. Don’t be that Grinch this season!
- Keep your work and personal stuff separate. Thanks to Covid, everything is all mixed together. Working from home is great if you are fortunate enough to have that “privilege”, but it also means that it’s harder to keep the two worlds from colliding constantly, especially from a security standpoint. If it looks like you are going to be working from home for the long run, perhaps it’s time to make sure the computer and devices you use for work are dedicated to just that, and not moonlighting as a homework/videogaming platform after hours. Working parents, you know what I’m talking about!
- Keep track of those pesky passwords. Let’s face it, Santa ain’t bringing us the gift of freedom from passwords this year, so treat yourself to a real password manager. Again, the good ones aren’t that expensive, as little as $3 a month! You can even get a family plan that allows you to share passwords – might be useful for multi-generational households and the multitude of streaming services they are guaranteed to be watching!
- Get a “mask” for your computer. Let’s face it, long before the pandemic darkened our doorways, the internet was polluted enough that the smart computer users were masking up with malware protection. The pollution has gotten worse, and shows no signs of abating. Having your computer go out in public without a mask is just asking for an infection and unfortunately monoclonal antibodies won’t save your data.
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay