With all we do online, a lot of us worry about protecting our information and privacy. Even those of us who don’t have social media or any online accounts could become victims of identity theft through the Dark Web. So, during International Digital Inclusion Week #IDIW2018 (October 15-21, 2018), viNGN shared 2 steps to becoming Computer-Safe, Cyber-Secure for everyone.
Step One: Protect the 3 areas of vulnerability on your machine
Operating Systems: Computers, laptops and smartphones all interact with programs and other hardware through customized software packages called Operating Systems. Operating systems also govern the look of the graphical user interface (GUI), which you use to open and close windows, move files and folders and interact with web pages for example. The most popular are Windows, Mac, iOS (iPhones, iPads) and Android (tablets and smartphones). On computers, set updates to automatic, and be sure to update your Operating system when you are notified to do so on devices. This ensures that you have all the latest patches for security and smooth operation.
Firmware: The firmware is software that is embedded in hardware components in your device or computer. This includes not only computers, tablets and smartphones but also webcams, printers and other internet-connected equipment. Subscribe to email updates to stay informed, and update these programs when you are notified to do so.
Anti-Malware: These programs provide layers of network security to protect your email, surfing, files and folders from intrusions. There are many free and commercial options, but they work best when both your Operating System and firmware are up to date.
Hackers are always at work, so while there can never be a guarantee of 100% protection, you do increase your safety by giving attention to these 3 areas of vulnerability!
Step Two: Set up Multi-Factor Authentication on your online accounts
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) allows you to set up a system to verify your identity before making account changes, accessing sensitive areas of your accounts, or logging on from different locations or devices.
For a tutorial, visit the GCF free training module on this topic. Everyone, regardless of how active online, should set up their online accounts with MFA. Customer service can answer any questions you may have on getting this set up.
Basically, you are providing an email address and/or phone number that will be contacted to verify your identity. You set this up before you need it, not afterwards, because a malicious person could put in this information and essentially lock you out of your own account before you know what is happening.
To set up Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), visit your online account (social media, email or a service such as a public utility). Once logged in, visit your account area, then look for the privacy and security section.
Add your mobile phone number and your email address, then visit both to obtain the verification link or code for email, and the verification code for the phone via text message. Enter these on the web page, and you will receive a notice that your verification methods are confirmed. You are not finished until you have completed this last confirmation step.
You can set the account to send notices based on account balance, or whenever your account is logged into from a new browser, device or location… or, if anyone attempts to modify your account information in any way. Consider this an early warning system to a hack or identity theft.
A word about the Dark Web…
Even if you do not use social media or spend a lot of time online, your identity could end up on the Dark Web!
The Dark Web is an encrypted part of the World Wide Web (WWW) where stolen data including credit cards and other personally identifiable information is traded for profit. There is a lot more that goes on there.
You may subscribe to a service that monitors the Dark Web, or start with a visit to haveibeenpwned.com and enter your email address. If you discover that it is vulnerable, do not panic, but do take action.
- Change the passwords of all accounts, including the original email account, attached to or using that email address
- Ensure that Multi-Factor Authentication is activated on all affected accounts
- Get a your free annual credit report (annualcreditreport.com) and scan it for anything sketchy. Take the actions indicated should you locate anything wrong. Note: In the USVI, you will receive your reports by postal mail instead of instantly.
It may be scary to realize that the Dark Web, hackers and malicious programs are out there, but information gives you the power of time – to protect yourself and your loved ones, minimizing risk to your privacy and reputation! Get started today with a free Online Safety course from GCFLearnFree.
To host or offer viNGN’s Computer-Smart, Cyber-Secure Workshop for your group, contact Anita Davis at (340) 715-8581 x 2244 or email email@example.com.