January 2021: 10 Personal Cyber Security Tips — #CyberAware

With these ten personal cybersecurity tips, we are aiming to help our readers become more cyber aware. We developed these security tips from our experience managing millions of security events for businesses and professionals worldwide.

1. Keep Your Software Up to Date

As we saw from the stats above, ransomware attacks were a major attack vector of 2017 for both businesses and consumers. One of the most important cybersecurity tips to mitigate ransomware is patching outdated software, both the operating systems and applications. This helps remove critical vulnerabilities that hackers use to access their devices. Here are a few quick tips to get you started:

  • Turn on automatic system updates for your device
  • Make sure your desktop web browser uses automatic security updates
  • Keep your web browser plugins like Flash, Java, etc. updated

Check out our blog on patch management best practices!

2. Use Anti-Virus Protection & Firewall

Anti-virus (AV) protection software has been the most prevalent solution to fight malicious attacks. AV software blocks malware and other malicious viruses from entering your device and compromising your data. Use anti-virus software from trusted vendors and only run one AV tool on your device.

Using a firewall is also important when defending your data against malicious attacks. A firewall helps screen out hackers, viruses, and other malicious activity that occurs over the Internet and determines what traffic is allowed to enter your device. Windows and Mac OS X comes with their respective firewalls, aptly named Windows Firewall and Mac Firewall. Your router should also have a firewall built in to prevent attacks on your network.

3. Use Strong Passwords & Use a Password Management Tool

You’ve probably heard that strong passwords are critical to online security. The truth is passwords are important in keeping hackers out of your data! According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) 2017 new password policy framework, you should consider:

  • Dropping the crazy, complex mixture of upper case letters, symbols, and numbers. Instead, opt for something more user-friendly but with at least eight characters and a maximum length of 64 characters.
  • Don’t use the same password twice.
  • The password should contain at least one lowercase letter, one uppercase letter, one number, and four symbols but not the following &%#@_.
  • Choose something that is easy to remember and never leave a password hint out in the open or make it publicly available for hackers to see
  • Reset your password when you forget it. But, change it once per year as a general refresh.

 

If you want to make it easier to manage your passwords, try using a password management tool or password account vault. LastPass FREE is a great tool for an individual. LastPass offers a FREE account and has a $2/month membership with some great advanced password features.

4. Use Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication

Two-factor or multi-factor authentication is a service that adds additional layers of security to the standard password method of online identification. Without two-factor authentication, you would normally enter a username and password. But, with two-factor, you would be prompted to enter one additional authentication method such as a Personal Identification Code, another password, or even fingerprint. With multi-factor authentication, you would be prompted to enter more than two additional authentication methods after entering your username and password.

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According to NIST, an SMS delivery should not be used during two-factor authentication because malware can be used to attack mobile phone networks and can compromise data during the process. 

5. Learn about Phishing Scams – be very suspicious of emails, phone calls, and flyers

We recently blogged that phishing scams are nastier than ever this year. In a phishing scheme attempt, the attacker poses as someone or something the sender is not to trick the recipient into divulging credentials, clicking a malicious link, or opening an attachment that infects the user’s system with malware, trojan, or zero-day vulnerability exploit. This often leads to a ransomware attack. In fact, 90% of ransomware attacks originate from phishing attempts.

A few important cybersecurity tips to remember about phishing schemes include:

  1. Bottom line – Don’t open an email from people you don’t know
  2. Know which links are safe and which are not – hover over a link to discover where it directs to
  3. Be suspicious of the emails sent to you in general – look and see where it came from and if there are grammatical errors
  4. Malicious links can come from friends who have been infected too. So, be extra careful!

 

6. Protect Your Sensitive Personal Identifiable Information (PII)

Personal Identifiable Information (PII) is any information that can be used by a cybercriminal to identify or locate an individual. PII includes information such as name, address, phone numbers, date of birth, Social Security Number, IP address, location details, or any other physical or digital identity data. Your credit card information should be protected by companies if they follow the PCI DSS standards.

In the new “always-on” world of social media, you should be very cautious about the information you include online. It is recommended that you only show the very minimum about yourself on social media. Consider reviewing your privacy settings across all your social media accounts, particularly Facebook. Adding your home address, birth date, or any other PII information will dramatically increase your risk of a security breach. Hackers use this information to their advantage!

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7. Use Your Mobile Devices Securely

According to McAfee Labs, your mobile device is now a target of more than 1.5 million new incidents of mobile malware. Here are some quick tips for mobile device security:

  1. Create a Difficult Mobile Passcode – Not Your Birthdate or Bank PIN
  2. Install Apps from Trusted Sources
  3. Keep Your Device Updated – Hackers Use Vulnerabilities in Unpatched Older Operating Systems
  4. Avoid sending PII or sensitive information over text message or email
  5. Leverage Find my iPhone or the Android Device Manager to prevent loss or theft
  6. Perform regular mobile backups using iCloud or Enabling Backup & Sync from Android

 

Top New Threats in Mobile Security

 

Top Mobile Security Threats.png

 

8. Backup Your Data Regularly

Backing up your data regularly is an overlooked step in personal online security. The top IT and security managers follow a simple rule called the 3-2-1 backup rule. Essentially, you will keep three copies of your data on two different types of media (local and external hard drive) and one copy in an off-site location (cloud storage).

If you become a victim of ransomware or malware, the only way to restore your data is to erase your systems and restore them with a recently performed backup.

9. Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi

Don’t use public Wi-Fi without using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). By using a VPN, the traffic between your device and the VPN server is encrypted. This means it’s much more difficult for a cybercriminal to obtain access to your data on your device. Use your cell network if you don’t have a VPN when security is important.

10. Review Your Online Accounts & Credit Reports Regularly for Changes

With the recent Equifax breach, it’s more important than ever for consumers to safeguard their online accounts and monitor their credit reports. A credit freeze is the most effective way for you to protect your personal credit information from cybercriminals right now. Essentially, it allows you to lock your credit and use a personal identification number (PIN) that only you will know. You can then use this PIN when you need to apply for credit.

 

Top Causes of Security Breaches

Hacking, phishing, and malware incidents are becoming the number one cause of security breaches today. But, what’s more troubling, these hacking attempts are the result of human errors in some way. Education and awareness are critically important in the fight against cybercriminal activity and preventing security breaches.

Top Causes of Security Breaches CIPHER.png


Compile and approved by the technical support department via CIPHER

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December 2020: You can restrict accounts on Instagram to limit their activity without blocking or unfollowing them

Instagram has an option to restrict users, that is to limit what they can post and who can see what they can post on your account.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Comments from restricted accounts only remain visible to them and can be seen by users who restrict them if they allow it.
  • Restricted accounts are also not able to see when you are online or if you have read their messages as their DMs are moved to Message requests.
  • You will also not receive any notifications for future comments from that person.

Are you tired of constant DMs or the prying nature of certain people on Instagram but do not want to block or unfollow them? There is a feature on Instagram called Restrict accounts, which as the name suggests helps users to limit someone’s activity on Instagram. Over the years, Instagram has brought features like Close Friends and Hide Story From XYZ account to disable certain people to view your activity. Restrict accounts is one such option that allows you to limit what people can post on your profile.

-- Users have control if others can see comments on their posts, their chat will move to your Message requests, so they will not see when you read it.

-- Restricted accounts are also not able to see when you are online or if you have read their messages.

-- The new comments from restricted accounts on your posts will only be visible to that person, and you can choose to see the comment by tapping See Comment. If you want others to be able to see their comment, you can tap Approve, then tap Approve to confirm, or you can delete it or ignore it.

-- You will also not receive any notifications for future comments from that person.

Restricting an account through a profile:

-- Log into your Instagram account through your Android or iPhone.

-- Go to the profile of the person you want to restrict.

-- Click on the three dots on the right-hand side.

-- Select the restrict option.

You can un-restrict the person by following the same steps.


To restrict someone through Direct:

-- Tap on the Direct message or messenger icon in the top right and tap the chat with the person you want to restrict.

-- Tap the person's name at the top right of your chat.

-- Tap Restrict at the bottom.

If you are in a group chat with someone that you have restricted, you will get a warning that you will see a restricted account’s messages. You can choose to stay on the group or leave the group.

To restrict or un-restrict someone through your settings:

-- Tap on your profile picture in the bottom right to go to your profile.

-- Tap the three lines in the top right.

-- Tap Settings and then tap Privacy.

-- Below Connections, tap Restricted Accounts.

-- Tap Continue.

-- Search for the account you’d like to restrict and tap Restrict next to their username, or tap Unrestrict to un-restrict someone.


To restrict or un-restrict someone through a comment on your post:

-- Go to your post and tap View all comments.

-- Swipe left over the comment (iPhone) or tap and hold the comment (Android).

-- Tap on the exclamation mark and then tap Restrict (username) or Unrestrict (username).

If a restricted person comments on your post, you can tap See Comment to reveal what the comment says, or you can tap Delete to delete the comment. If you tapped See Comment, you can tap Approve, then tap Approve to make the comment visible to others, or you can tap Delete to delete the comment.


Compiled and Approved by the technical support officer.

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November 2020: How to change your background on Google Meet during a video meeting

Google is rolling out custom backgrounds for desktop users. Virtual backgrounds feature will roll out for Google Meet app users in the coming weeks.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Google Meet is rolling out virtual backgrounds for desktop users.
  • The virtual background feature does not require an extension or any additional software and works well within the user’s browser.
  • The virtual backgrounds will work on ChromeOS and the Chrome browser on Windows and Mac desktop devices.

Google Meet is rolling out custom virtual backgrounds for desktop users. The feature does not require an extension or any additional software and works well within the user’s browser. Google notes that virtual backgrounds will ensure more productive meetings and less distraction. The virtual backgrounds feature is not new to the video conferencing apps as Zoom and Microsoft Teams have already rolled out similar features a few months back.

"Custom backgrounds can help you show more of your personality, as well as help hide your surroundings," Google noted in a blog post. The virtual backgrounds will work on ChromeOS and the Chrome browser on Windows and Mac desktop devices. The support on Meet mobile apps will be coming soon, Google will notify users when it does roll out the feature.

Users can also select their picture as a virtual background. However, as of now, the option of selecting your own picture is not available to participants of meetings organised by Google Meet for Education customers. Google noted that there will be no admin controls for the virtual background feature at the launch. However, the company will roll them out in the coming weeks. The feature is off by default.

Google Meet has rolled out features like blur background and noise cancellation in the past for more efficient virtual meetings. Users can change the background on Google Meet by following the given steps.


To change the background on Google Meet before a video call:

-- Open Google Meet

-- Select the meeting

-- Click on the three dots on the bottom right or the More option

-- Select Change background

--You can select from slightly blur or completely blur in case you want to blur your backgrounds.

--Select Turn on background blur



-- Users can also select a pre-uploaded background. Selecting a background will turn on a user’s camera in case it was off

--Users can also add their own image by clicking on the Add option.

-- Select Join now


To change the background on Google Meet during a video call:

-- Click on the three dots on the bottom right or the More option.


-- Select Change background

--You can select from slightly blur or completely blur in case you want to blur your backgrounds.

-- On the bottom right of your self-view, click Change Background. To completely blur your background, click Blur your background.

-- Users can also select a pre-uploaded background. Selecting a background will turn on a user’s camera in case it was off.

--Users can also add their own image by clicking on the Add option.

Google notes that blurring background may slow down your device and that users should turn the feature off to allow other apps to run faster on your computer.

Compiled and Approved by  the technical support department

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October 2020: How to bulk delete emails from Gmail

Gmail users can bulk delete old, unnecessary emails from their Gmail account in a few simple steps. Clearing out the inbox can help users create space in their Google account.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Gmail users can clear out mail based on categories, like read, unread, starred, and unstarred messages.
  • To bulk delete emails, users will require a computer. However, a small number of messages can be deleted from the Gmail app.
  • Deleted emails are moved to trash for 30 days after which they are automatically deleted permanently. Users can also clear out the trash before the end of 30 days.

It is amazing how much space clearing out old, unnecessary emails can make. If you are someone who has over 20,000 mails in your inbox, you may consider decluttering your mailbox. Especially when Google plans to put a 15GB cap on storage for your Google account for your Google photos, emails, and files from Google drive. All this while you may have taken all that free storage for granted and probably did forget to clear out your Gmail.

Deleting emails can be achieved through the Gmail app. However, when you have thousands you want to clear all at once, you will need a computer. Google on one of its support pages notes that you cannot delete all messages together from the Gmail app. To bulk delete emails from Gmail, follow the given steps:

-- Open Gmail, enter your email ID and password.

-- Go To Inbox, here you may see tabs for promotional email or emails from social media (chances are that you have never probably opened the emails and they are lying in your inbox eating your precious storage.)

-- Go on promotional or social or other tabs depending on what you want to delete.
-- Check the Select all option, it is a box on the top left.
-- You will get an option to “delete all (number of total messages) from that category”
-- Select the option.
-- Click Okay to confirm, it may take some time for the emails to clear out.

To delete messages from the inbox:


-- Click the down arrow in the top left
-- You will see categories for messages you would want to delete including all, none read, unread, starred, unstarred.
-- Select the option you want to choose.
-- Click on the Delete button.

You can also delete emails based on the date, the size of the file, or the sender by choosing the advanced search option. You have to click on the down arrow in the search bar and fill out the categories.

To delete large files:


-- Go to Gmail search bar, Press on the down arrow.
-- Fill in the size, for instance, 20MB, select the time window of the mails, for example, one month.
-- All 25MB files will show up. Select all and delete if you wish to delete all or you can back up your important files and then delete them.


You can also delete old emails in the same way by typing in the time range, based on if the email has an attachment, and if the email is unread.

All deleted messages go to Trash and remain there for 30 days. If you want to clear out your trash and permanently delete mails:
-- Select Menu or three lines from the top left.
-- Select Trash.
-- At the top, tap Empty trash now.

Compiled and approved by the technical support officer

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August 2020: How to schedule emails to send at a later time on Gmail

Gmail gives its users the option to schedule emails to send at a later time. Users can also alter and cancel the emails they have scheduled in case they change their minds.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Gmail users can schedule emails to send at a later time, they can also cancel the scheduled emails.
  • A scheduled email becomes a draft if cancelled and can be altered before the mail is sent.
  • Gmail has the option to schedule as many as 100 emails.
For iPhone or iPad

There are times when sending emails at a particular time becomes a task because there are too many, or you are forgetful or too caught up to reply. For times like these, it is always better to schedule emails. Gmail gives the option to schedule as many as 100 emails. A scheduled email becomes a draft if cancelled and can be altered before the mail is sent. Google notes that emails are sent based on the timezone the user schedules them in. Here is how you can schedule emails to send at a later time on Gmail.

For Computer

-- Open Gmail

-- Log in to Gmail

-- Select Compose from the top left.

-- Create your email.

-- Instead of clicking on Send, click on the dropdown arrow

-- Click Schedule Send

For Android

-- Open Gmail

-- Log in to Gmail

--Select Compose from the top left

--Create your email.

--Tap on More from the top right

--Tap on Schedule Send > select an option


-- Open the Gmail app

--Tap on Compose from the bottom right.

--Create your email.

--Tap on More from the top right.

--Tap on Schedule Send > select an option

Users can also cancel and alter a scheduled email by following the given steps

For computer

--Go to Gmail

--On the left panel, click on scheduled

--Select the email you want to change

--At the top right of your email, click Cancel send

-- To change or alter the previous mail, users can create the changes.

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--At the bottom left next to Send, click on the dropdown arrow

--Click on the schedule and select a new date and time.

For Android and iPhone

-- Open the Gmail app

-- Tap on Menu or the three lines (hamburger) on the right

--Tap on Scheduled

--Select the email you want to change > Cancel Send

-- Tap the email again

-- Create your changes

-- At the top right, tap More

-- Tap on schedule send > Select an option

Cancelled emails become drafts. Users can unsend an email immediately after they have sent it by tapping on Sent and then tapping on Undo.

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