If you are the most technical person in your neighborhood, then chances are you have become the local unofficial tech support rep for your circle of friends and family. It doesn’t matter how much, or how little, you know…as long as you are more technically capable than the rest of your family, you will never have to look for extra work in your spare time.
You will help them recover lost files, connect their laptopsto printers, clean up malware, and explain to them why the “internet is not working” on their mobile phonesor tablets. And when your job is finally finished, you can stand proudly knowing that you are a superhero in their eyes. You are now known as the local computer “Guru”. And that, in today’s web-connected world, makes you a part of the cyber security front line.
Today is as good of a day as any to go back to basics and review a few simple steps that can help make your family a little safer online. At a minimum your goal should be to make things harder for the bad guys, and head off as many tech support phone calls as possible, before they occur.
Take a few minutes and go over the following online security tips with your friends and family. Who knows, you might even get a free lunch or a beer out of the deal.
1. Use Strong Passwords
I have said it again and again. The first step to online security is the use of a strong password. Most experts recommend that you use a password with a minimum of 12 characters. The longer the better, as it is more difficult for an attacker to guess.
Do not use the same password again and again, and don’t use a password that is easy to guess like your birthday or the name of your cat. If possible use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters like $, % or !. I strongly recommend using my free Secure Password Generator to create a bullet-proof password. It is also important that you do not use the same password on more than one site.
Make sure to store your passwords somewhere safe. Don’t use sticky notes attached to your monitor or keyboard. If you have to write them down it is best to just write clues that will help you remember them, as opposed to writing down the actual passwords. However , a more secure method is to use a password management solution. The combination of an encrypted hard drive AND password management software provides the best solution for keeping your password list safe from hackers and eavesdroppers.
Where appropriate, you might also consider using a two-factor authentication mechanism like Duo:Security or Google’s 2-step validation as an added layer of security…