Being safe online or “defeating the hackers” is a misnomer. So to avoid being lured to a false sense of security — ahead of Safer Internet Day (2018) — let's explore 8 keys to a safer internet experience.
Technology by necessity, perpetually exposes us. A reason you don't want to get carried away with the smart tech and IoT hype. In fact, just being alive in a digital world such as ours exposes you to any malicious individuals and well-resourced devious entities out to exploit your digital footprint.
This is why whenever I'm asked how best to protect loved ones from bad actors online, I start as follows:
Just knowing or coming into contact with bad, dumb, or careless folks is enough. And while the commentary on the above video of President Obama's daughter is equally dumb and stereotypically American, my advice to concerned good parents who find themselves in such situations is:
Immediately take steps to drastically and culturally change the child's environment. Based on my own upbringing, I can attest to the fact that while ideal, siblings don't always have to grow up together.
If a wayward kid is in America say, and being genuinely determined, you're willing to be creative, plus money isn't a problem, send them away to a school in a different State. Or if a little culture shock can help, why not Saudi Arabia or a carefully chosen African or Asian school for a few years. Then watch what happens to their penchant for smoking rings (whatever that is), elevated perspective, or idea of “normal” after a year or more. Because being safe online requires good judgment. And for some, less, rather than more exposure to addictive technologies and their associated baggage.
If you're too broke to afford such solutions, contact me for consultative help. Alternatively, you can continue hanging out with the same (family) friends who tell you “it's normal” teen behavior. But the fact is, I know families and people who implemented the above advice with excellent results.Zoom Out. It's Not All about Tech, Parents: How NOT To Use Social Media
In one Hong Kong home, a Filipino friend who previously worked in the Middle East recounted in vivid detail sitting together happily to eat. And the shock of watching her Hong Kong boss couple and their 2 kids staring down at mobile devices as meals get cold. In America meanwhile, a relative I helped failed because his own wife doesn't share his web addiction and security hygiene concerns and values.
It's easy to forget that there's thing called “libraries” — which you can creatively build at home — and web-enabled “public libraries” whose networks prohibit addictive socially corrosive content. Libraries where you'll find real people of all ages including mentally stronger folks (click image above) quietly engaging and building. Where kids and students are likely to meet high quality friends. And where with the right creative parenting and role modeling, you could actually reliably know how much time they spend there. Addiction to, or ignorance of trashy TV shows, trashy hashtags or memes, sensational (tabloid)/trending news, doesn't make loved safer in cyberspace.
It is the search for reinforcement online that makes us vulnerable. So, model your own house rules on internet safety and be sure your spouse is on board before trying the following 3, or you'll fail:
First, be assertive. Let your money, actions and personal leadership set the culture. Watch this:
Do your kids really need an iPhone or the latest shiny Android phone when some parents I know insist on old “dumb” phones ONLY until the kids can earn those gadgets through gainful employment? Do they have tablet devices like iPads built for consumers, or every device your money gets them was built for creators, like a Surface Pro? What performance metrics are tied to their data, phone and other allowance? Do you know or discuss the content on their Social Media profiles, walls; timeline?
ISIS recruits and pedophiles aren't the only vile folks making cyberspace a bad neighborhood. No matter how busy you are, how your money is spent in cyberspace and on Social Media is your responsibility. Saying “I'm not tech savvy” or “I'm busy” is no excuse. Reach out and ask for help.
Secondly, teach your family to avoid rowdy kids and people who are always filming. Because as above, they always get themselves and those around them in trouble. Plus, the internet never forgets.
Thirdly, I've addressed Social Media risks, solutions and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in detail. Read:
I recently published “Privacy vs. Hidden Cameras: Winning The Covert & Overt Surveillance Battle.” And like most of my work, it is very detailed, and will do you and your loved ones a lot of good.
Click the image directly above to access it. But don't forget to bookmark it. Because you're going to need to return to it from time to time. Any questions, ask me here, on Twitter, or as above.
Teach your loved ones that unless they want to be famous at all cost or don't mind being a trending hashtag on Social Media for the wrong reasons or being easily tracked, blackmailed, framed or fired for being associated with the wrong people, it's best to be super stingy about sharing real name, ID(s), personally identifiable information including date of birth, photos and even CV/resumé. Because like everybody else, HR and job agencies are being hacked. The following are zoomable:ICYMI: Cyber Security Made Easy (Part 1)
In 2016, I published a blog meant to demystify Security for my and YOUR friends, family and small businesses.
You can access it here. However, it's important to remember, security doesn't use birth control. Like the hacking stories you read about or see on the evening news, it easily multiplies and gets “complicated and too overwhelming” for most as it permeates every field, subject and industry imaginable.
This is why I started by attempting to disabuse you of the assumption that cyber security is a set-and-forget, defeat 'em once and for all affair. Same reason billions of dollars and thousands of lives lost some sixteen years following the U.S. invasion, the Taliban now threatens 70% of Afghanistan.VPN, Next-Gen AV, Anti-Ransomware, Ant-Keyloggers & Security Extensions
You and your family absolutely should use a VPN. Click or tap above above for a quick and essential intro as to why. Also in case you missed it, VPN is already defined in one of the glossaries above.
Whether you're a globe trotter, student or simply the budget-conscious type, make sure you and your loved ones have the Opera browser with built-in VPN regularly updated and turned on, on all your devices. The worst time to look for a good VPN is AFTER you arrive in police states like China.
This list accurately reflect the best VPNs as of February 2018.
Know-it-alls keep telling users AV (Antivirus software) and email is dead. Yet many detected and blocked the #WannaCry/#WannaCrypt Ransomware. The thing is, and Neil Rubenking is right: “Malware these days is about making money, and there's no easy way to cash in on spreading a virus. Ransomware and data-stealing Trojans are much more common, as are bots that let the bot-herder rent out your computer for nefarious purposes.”
Which is why last year, I tweeted after the #SynCrypt Ransomware was missed by most AVs: “Forget AVs. Get Ransomware solutions” now. If you don't want your data or your loved ones' devices held ransom at the worse possible time, click here for free, detailed Anti-Ransomware solutions.Speaking of data, these offer the best backup services I can, at the time of writing, think of. For anti-keyloggers and anti-screen capture protection, see this 2018 review. If on budget, QFX Software Corp's KeyScrambler is probably enough. Moreover, Phishing — also defined above in the glossary — is how most high profile hacks begin. And for the best Anti-Phishing tech, see this list.
Coming back to Antivirus software, it's best avoid Russian AVs right now. For value, I recommend Avira's free AV, Avast Free Antivirus, or Microsoft Windows Defender. Otherwise, for paid versions and rigorously lab tested AVs, the best for 2018 are listed here.
Further, AVs aren't created equal. Many can expose you and your loved ones to cyber attacks. So, be careful. And by all means, seek out, read, and share books and other media on Social Engineering.Social Engineering is why Americans are notoriously easy to dupe. Not just by Russians via Social Media. To be threat smart today is to have a good nose for digital rot. Plus great resilience. See #6-8.
With regard to extensions, with all the buzz about Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies cyber criminals are hard at work stealing others' computing resources to mine their crypto coins AKA, Cryptojacking. To prevent this, make sure you or your loved ones install the No Coin extension, or similar apps.
Other must-have security and privacy extensions you should ensure your family or loved use include:
#1-5 taught you the fundamentals. Clicking or tapping the image above takes you to my 3-part blog revealing the mindset required to stay ahead of hackers. All 3 images there are hyperlinked, mind you.Why You or Your Loved Ones Don't Want To Be Cyber Crime Magnets
In case you find yourself teaching or explaining to skeptical loved ones why all the above matters, you can use either the above zoomable graphic, or click/tap to access the 3-part blog.How To NOT Get Hacked
It's a question we get asked often. A question I partly addressed in the very first paragraph.
While the above 3-part blog addresses it, the bottom line is you WILL get hacked and likely already did perhaps several times already. Because security is that porous and difficult. The goal needn't be to drive yourself crazy over cyber security. Rather, like the superstar who wears a disguise, you want to teach your loved ones to be as uninteresting to cyber criminals as possible, remembering that just because it has “smart” attached to it, doesn't necessarily mean it's good for your security or privacy.
For mobile security, see my microblog, which handles that daily. Engage, or follow me.