Tomorrow, (Thursday 30th November) is National Computer Security Day.
Now we all might think we’re pretty savvy, right? We don’t fall for those “I’m calling from Microsoft and there’s a problem with your computer” or “This is your ISP there’s an issue with your router calls”, right?
Well I mean, I hope we don’t but there are people who do as otherwise they wouldn’t still be going on.
As the holiday season approaches there’s going to be more and more people out there that are after your money or want access to your computer so that they can use it to spread viruses to others, mine bitcoin or rinse your online bank account.
So what can we do about it?
Help Your Older Relatives And Neighbours
Firstly, make sure your older relatives are aware of scams – this is often the starting point for a virus/trojan to begin spreading. Who doesn’t want to receive a cute e-card from Grandma only then you find out she’s clicked a link in an email that’s downloaded all sorts of stuff on to their computer?
Explain to them what sort of scams are out there – the charity AgeUK has a great page geared towards older folks that explains the scams they may have to deal with.
Once you’ve done that, take a look at your own security. Do you reuse the same password (or a minor variation of) on different sites? I know I used to be guilty of that! Grab yourself a password manager – many have free levels or extended trials. I’ve tried a few and found that LastPass is the best as I need it to work on multiple PCs (Windows & Linux) as well as Android and iOS devices.
Use A Password Manager
If you’d like to support me please use my LastPass Afilliate link to signup for a paid account – they have a “Cyber Monday” sale that expires soon, but they also have a free level that you can use as well.
Standard link to LastPass here if you don’t wish to use an affiliate link (as I’m not a shady content creator!).
If you don’t want to use a password manager, make sure that the browser you use regularly is up to date and, if possible, set a master password so that your saved passwords are a bit more secure.
Update Your Operating System
Make sure that your PC is up-to-date too. Microsoft’s anti-virus used to be a bit of a joke years ago and you would have definitely needed a third party piece of software, but Windows Defender is now industry standard and has a low overhead on your system.
Even if you have automatic updates enabled, sometimes these don’t run so check for updates manually every once in a while just in case.
Enable Security Scans
Check you have regular scans enabled on whatever virus protection you’re running, maybe even take a few minutes to run a quick scan for peace of mind!
Check Who Has Sent You That Email
Another piece of advice: always double check the “from address” on emails you received and then double check the URLS in emails are going to where you expect them to.
If it’s an email asking you to reset a password, that link should go directly to the form on the site you need, it shouldn’t be cloaked like some URLs on marketing emails are.
If it’s for something you didn’t request, don’t click on anything. Go to the site directly and reset your password from there – even if it wasn’t a password reset email, you don’t know what info they have.
A lot of people are caught out by official looking emails as they’re getting so sophisticated spoofing email addresses (I used to have fun sending emails to colleagues from “The Queen Of England” but that’s a tale for another time) and the look/feel of emails that it’s easy to get caught out.
Back Up Your Computer
Finally, make sure you have regular backups set up. I use the free version of AOMEI Backupper to run multiple different backups to different drives – something that’s so important after my NAS crashed earlier in the year and I lost pretty much everything.
Of course, there are more things to consider when it comes to computer security but I thought these were the most important to highlight on National Security Day – if you have any more tips, hit “Reply” and I might put them into a future article or newsletter.