Talking to Your Family and Friends About Cybersecurity
So much of our lives are dependent on computers and mobile devices. From online banking and shopping to accessing transportation to controlling our home’s thermostat, we live in a world that has become reliant on the devices we carry or that sit on our desk. Likewise, with hybrid and remote work and school having become the new norm for many due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever before to not only ensure our devices are secure but also that our friends and family are using safe practices to secure their own devices while navigating online. As technologies continue to improve, so too will the dangers that lurk online, making it critical that we all take the necessary precautions to keep ourselves and our loved ones cyber safe.
What Issues Should You Focus On?
Talking to friends and family about configuring their smartphone security settings or oversharing personal information on social media probably sounds like a monotonous or even daunting task. However, it's important to share our knowledge with the people in our life who may not have the same level of knowledge. We recommend focusing on the following issues when educating family and friends on cybersecurity risks:
- Sharing personal information – Make sure they understand all the various places their information can live on the internet and how easily it can be stolen by hackers for malicious purposes. See our blog post Protecting Your Online Identity
- Phishing and vishing scams – Educate them on how to identify and not fall victim to these types of scams, and what to do if they think they've become a victim. In particular, share with them some of the more commonly seen scams, such as U.S. tax season scams or Microsoft impersonation scams.
- Software updates and patches – Tell them that security issues are continually being found and fixed, and it's important to not let any of their devices become out of date. Make sure they keep the software on their computers, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices up to date where possible (it's important to note that some IoT devices (Internet of Things) cannot be patched). Have them enable automatic updates if possible.
- Endpoint protection and/or antivirus software – Have them check with their ISP to see if there is a complimentary or discounted license available to customers for this type of software. Additionally, they can check with the MSP to determine of a protective software product is built into their endpoint (e.g., router / modem). Ensure they keep the software up to date with the latest version or patch.
- Software downloads – Have them avoid unnecessary software downloads, and only download software from reputable sources. Although free games for kids may be fun, they could contain malware or viruses that can steal information off the device.
- Wi-Fi security – Make sure they secure their home Wi-Fi networks properly. Educate them on the risks of connecting to public Wi-Fi in places like airports or coffee shops. See our tips on securing your home Wi-Fi network and public Wi-Fi best practices
- Strong passwords and multi-factor authentication – Educate them on the characteristics of a strong password, and how to enable multi-factor authentication when possible. Make sure they create a new password on every device they own, and lock the device after set periods of time. See our password strength best practices
- Internet-connected device security – Mobile and smart devices are a common target for hackers to install malware that can control your device and be used for malicious purposes, such as stealing your personal information. Protecting Your Data at Home and Being Smart About Your Smartphone
- Disposing of old devices – Make sure they don't throw away or recycle old devices without properly removing all personal data and using a secure recycling program. See the Federal Trade Commission's guidelines on mobile device disposal here. Have them contact their service provider to see if any other steps need to be taken to protect their personal data.
Online Safety Tips for Children and Teens
Each year, ACA Aponix participates in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Stop.Think.Connect Campaign to further educate our clients and friends on measures they can take to protect their information, family, and business from cyber threats. Our team developed a series of resources to educate parents and caregivers about the cyber safety best practices they can use at home, school, and wherever children can get online. Get our guide here.
For More Information
For more cyber safety tips and resources you can apply at home and at work, see our Cyber Awareness Resources page. If you have any questions, please contact your ACA Aponix consultant.