Ok so we all know that online security is probably important (i.e. making sure no one hacks your WhatsApp and steals ya nudes). BUT, you can betcha bottom (ha) dollar that when it comes to being more ‘online secure’, until recently I had done sweet fuck all. I suspect that I didn’t do anything about this because:
I didn’t understand what online security actually meant, or why it is important.
It felt like effort, and I’m lazy.
As IF I can remember multiple passwords (see bullet two).
It’s actually remarkably difficult to find good information about WHY online security is important - I’ve been Googling away for ages and all the info feels pretty abstract and targeted at companies rather than individuals. But here’s something I have “hacked” together (eh? eh?) which you can copy and paste for your friends as a favour because you’re so considerate.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT CYBER SECURITY
If you have poor online ‘hygiene’ you may get hacked. There is an increasing risk of getting hacked/infected with malware, due to the fact that we are using online channels for basically everything these days, and because cyber criminals are getting more sophisticated. There doesn’t appear to be concrete numbers on the likelihood of your security being compromised, but it’s still worth caring about because the results of an attack can be devastating, and it’s very little effort to significantly improve your personal security. Some of the ways you may be impacted by your devices being hacked are:
Your personal information can be stolen and/or leaked
Your data and personal information can be held ransom (i.e. someone will try to make you pay to get your own data back, and will wipe it if you don’t pay)
Your money can be stolen
You can lose control over your information and accounts, and cannot control how they are used
Other stuff, panic panic panic.
Your online security also impacts others. When your device is infected, there is a high possibility that it will infect other devices. This is how bots can work - your machine is infected and unbeknownst to you, it is probably infecting millions of users while you’re just sitting there, blissfully unaware and thinking you’re just writing a blog to help some peeps. You are part of a network eco-system, so don’t be a dick - play your part in helping us all stay safe from the CYBER TERRORISTS BEFORE THEY KILL US ALL.
Here are a couple of things you can do REALLY QUICKLY that will give you decently improved security with minimal effort.
I am not suggesting that this is ENOUGH - there’s tonnes more you can (and probably should) do. But for now, do these things:
Keep your software up to date on all your devices
It turns out that the majority of software and OS updates are security fixes. If you ever bother to read what the updates are doing, it’s all “ooo we are giving you new ENHANCEMENTS and making everything BETTER FOR YOU”. This is prob true, but that’s around 10% of what the fixes actually are. When you have security holes in your software, you are an easy target for THE CYBER CRIMINALS to infect you with malware. So when that annoying little pop up come up that says “Updates are available”, just do it. Don’t be a little bitch about it and click “Dismiss” like I do when I am watching Game of Thrones on my laptop and now Arya’s head is obscured and I’m all “piss off I want to know why a girl has no name tho”.
Cover your cameras
Ok so apparently it’s actually super easy to a) hack someone’s computer and get access to their camera, and b) MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THE LITTLE CAMERA BUTTON IS NOT ON (i.e. there’s no green/red light indicating that you are being recorded. Again, I know that you’re all “this won’t happen to me” but it MIGHT and it’s SUPER EASY to avoid this issue all together. There are just too many stories on the interwebs where people don’t realise their cameras are on, and then they are blackmailed for tonnes of cash dolla billz to get back the pics of them getting out of the shower, or taking a dump while watching Game of Thrones on their laptop. Put masking tape or the yellow sticky bit from a post it note over the camera on your laptop or tablet, and this whole issue goes away. Don’t do it on your phone though because that’s super dorky.
Get a password manager app
I use LastPass because it’s intuitive and it’s been recommended by a few different people. 1Password is also meant to be good. The benefit of having an app to manage your passwords is that now you ONLY HAVE TO REMEMBER ONE PASSWORD (to access the app), and then it remembers them for you, my little Dory fish. It stores all your account information including user name. It can also generate passwords for you, which is good because you really should have different and complex passwords for every different site you use. Now you can stop using ‘password123’ for everything. There are other features too such as form fillers, but you can look into those yourself. Oh yeah, and now you are more online-secure. Some say that using password managers are risky because you are placing your faith in the security of one service (some of which have been hacked), however the overwhelming evidence seems to suggest that it’s still better to use this and have more complex and individual passwords than it is to keep using the same passwords repeatedly. It’s not perfect, but it is the safest practical way to manage your passwords.
After doing a bunch of research, these simple steps felt like the easiest things to do, and they are also all coincidentally covered in a great podcast with Marc Goodman which you can find here. Goodman has been a “Resident Futurist” for the FBI, as well as a senior advisor to Interpol, so you know he’s legit. Check out that podcast for more info, and you too can be a cyber security genius. In the meantime, please don’t hack my mainframe.