Sunday, August 20, 2023

I troubleshoot software and these are Steps you can take secure your phone, tablet, laptop

I work in an industry where part of my job is to ensure a company's equipment and devices are secured to meet industry security standards and protect clients and consumers against digital attacks and the loss of company and individual data.

Here are some measures we take every day that you or anyone else can also use to protect your electronic devices so that hackers do not gain unauthorized access to your device and tamper with your data and information.

  1. Everyone needs to be using Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). Everyone. No exception. Personal or small business, it doesn't matter. You should be using 2FA. Everyone should. If you think you are a nobody or your business is too small to be hacked, think again because we see attempts to hack just regular individuals and normal people who consider themselves "a nobody" or not so important or wealthy for anyone to waste their time trying to hack them, but it happens. Hackers may target a random person to practice on or as a conduit to get into their employer's company system. It is very important to enable 2FA whenever possible for your accounts to make it harder for hackers to get into your device. You need a second form of verification, for example, a code from an app such as Google Authenticator, Authy, Microsoft Authenticator, etc. If you are unable to use an authenticator app (which is more secure), you can set up your phone number or email address to receive a code via text message, phone call, or email as a 2FA in addition to your passphrase or password.
  2. Do this simple thing: No sharing of PINs, passwords, or passphrases Please, just don't.
  3. Do not write your PINs, passwords, or passwords anywhere. The best practice is to use a password manager such as KeePass, Bitwarded, LogMeOnce, Avira Password Manager, Enpass Password Manager, 1Password, etc. to store your passwords and passphrases and you will have to remember only one master password or passphrase. It is very convenient, easy to use, and not complicated as people who have not used it think.
  4. Passwords, passphrases, and PINs: Use passphrases whenever possible, then a password, PIN, or pattern lock for your device. Avoid using information that can be guessed easily, such as your date of birth, street address, zip code, P.O. Boxes, plate number, name of a city, school, place of worship, or personal names. Longer passphrases are great for added security. If you are bilingual, using a password containing words from more than one language can be an added advantage. For example, instead of using PIN = 1986 or password = Moon345 or passphrase = I met her in Moshi, you could use a passphrase = In1986/WemetinMosh!
  5. Use Biometric Authentication if possible: Newer smartphones, tablets and laptops offer fingerprint or facial recognition. Use them whenever possible for an additional layer of security to make it a little difficult for hackers to bypass.
  6. Update your device's operating system and apps: If your device or apps are not set up to automatically download and install updated versions of the operating system or apps, make it a habit to manually check for updates, download them, and install in order to apply the latest bug fixes and security patches which fix vulnerabilities that hackers could use to exploit your device. Installing updates and upgrades may also improve the efficiency of your device. Caution: Please, backup data before installing updates because some updates may break stuff and cause issues, including the loss of data.
  7. Install and enable Security Apps: Always use reputable security applications, antivirus, or antimalware software to detect and prevent virus and malware attacks. Check your device settings and each application to ensure they are only granted permissions they truly need to perform what the app is intended to do. Some applications or operating systems will even allow you to only allow certain permissions when using the application itself. Revoke any permission you may think the app doesn't need. Some permissions you want to limit include location, camera, microphone, storage, files, etc.
  8. Make it a habit to review App Permissions by regularly reviewing app permission settings to ensure that only the necessary permissions that an app requires to function are granted.
  9. Lock SIM Card: This is very important, especially if you want to avoid phone or tablet SIM card jacking for 2FA. Contact your mobile carrier to enable a SIM card lock with a PIN or other security measures instituted by your carrier in order to block someone from porting, switching, and using your SIM card on another device.
  10. Be Careful with Downloads: Only download apps from official app stores, such as Microsoft's Windows Apps, Apple's App Store, or Google's Play Store, and from reputable websites for applications you may need on your computer. Avoid apps from third-party sources or attachments in an email or text.
  11. If you have to use a public Wi-Fi network, do not access sensitive data on your device while connected to the public Wi-Fi because it is less secure and more vulnerable to hacking. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead if it is urgent and you do not have any other option.
  12. Data Backup: Schedule a regular data backup of your device's data to a secure location such as the cloud storage service, an external storage device, or an isolated computer for data backup, and make sure the last two are offline or using a separate network or internet connection from the main. This is to ensure that, in the event of an attack, you are able to recover data that was stored separately offline or off the main grid. If you store data in the cloud, use a reputable and secure cloud storage service that offers strong encryption.
  13. Enable Remote Device Lock, Erase, or Wipe. This is very important, especially for a phone. In your Apple or Android device settings, check and enable the option that will let you remotely lock or wipe your phone, tablet, or laptop's data if it is lost or stolen to prevent unauthorized access to some sensitive information that can be used against you or for fraudulent activities.
  14. Send Secure emails if you have to share some sensitive information, such as Personally Identifiable Information (PII), Protected Health Information (PHI), Social Security Number (SSN), Date of Birth (DOB), physical address, a phone number, an email address, etc.
  15. Use Encrypted Messaging Apps: If you are unable to send a secure email or are concerned about messages being intercepted, if applicable, by your company, use encrypted messaging apps like Confide, Signal, WhatsApp, Threema, Voxer, Element, Wickr Me, Skred, Briar, Viber, etc.
  16. Screen Calls and Texts: Not all are genuine, especially if they come from an "unknown" or from a number not in your contact list, or an anonymous call or text. If you receive a call, text, or email and in the middle of the conversation you are asked to share some sensitive information or read a code sent to you, hang up or stop responding to a text. Legitimate companies do not call you asking for this information so they can stop a transaction or process one because they already have it. Some legitimate companies may ask for some information to confirm your identity if you call them first to report suspicious activity in your account. Do not share your information or confirm anything, especially if you didn't initiate the communication and you are being pressured or threatened.
  17. Those Bluetooth and NFCs. Disable them when they are not in use, as they can be used to gain unauthorized access.
  18. Do not use public USB charging ports. You want to always bring and use your own charge on the available electric outlet instead of free USB ports in airports, shopping centers, hotels etc. to avoid becoming a victim of "juice jacking" where hackers can load malware onto those USB ports.
I may have missed some tips, but these are also some of the most common practices that, if followed correctly, can significantly reduce the risk of getting compromised or hacked. You can stay informed about the latest security threats and best practices for mobile device security by following tech news websites, blogs, and social media accounts.