In our “internet of things” era, you’re more vulnerable to cybercriminals than ever before. There are threats around every corner waiting for potential victims.
Click the wrong link and you open yourself up to a phishing scam. Buy from the wrong website and your identity could become compromised. Be smart. Tap or click here for 10 mistakes people make on the web all the time.
Sometimes hackers take a more aggressive approach — using sophisticated tactics to steal your data. Tap or click here to learn about a scam that allows someone to take over your phone account before you even know something is wrong.
In these tumultuous times, a major cyberattack that takes away our connectivity and devices is a grim reality. Will you be ready?
Tensions between Iran and the U.S. escalate
When you think about military conflict, troops, ships or aircraft probably come to mind. While that’s true, we’re living in a new era of warfare.
Today, one country can attack another without ever firing a shot. Last year, Iran shot down an unmanned American drone and the U.S. canceled a conventional military strike in favor of a different response. Tap or click to find out how the United States took action.
As tensions between the U.S. and Iran escalate, many believe Iran will attempt major cyberattacks against America soon.
These cyberattacks could put your smart devices, bank accounts and other online services in jeopardy. Not only that, but Iran could attack power grids in major U.S. cities, effectively cutting off electricity to our homes and businesses.
STAY IN THE KNOW: Learn about the latest tech news, scams and security alerts before anyone else. Tap or click here to try my free Fraud & Security Alerts email.
Huge targets within the U.S. include banks, hospitals and energy providers. This is not a threat to take lightly.
How to prepare for potential cyberattacks
There are things we could all do to be better prepared. This list is far from comprehensive and is intended to get you off to a great start.
1. Passwords, for everything from online bank accounts to IoT devices in your home, need to be unique and difficult to crack. Use complex passwords that are at least 12 characters long, with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and characters. A password manager is helpful for keeping track of your unique logins. Tap or click here for more pro tips to create stronger passwords.
2. Make sure all of your devices are up to date. Updates often include critical security updates that address security vulnerabilities and cut off access to cybercriminals. Stop clicking “remind me later” and take a few minutes to update your computer, tablet and smartphone, at the very least. Make updates easier on yourself by enabling automatic updates for your devices’ operating systems, hardware or software.
3. If you have connected devices in your home, keep them on a separate network from your computers. The more you can do to make life hard for hackers, the better. Using multiple networks shields gadgets like your computer and smartphone from attacks. By setting up another network, you can still allow your smart appliances and home hub to communicate, while keeping your main computing devices safe. Tap or click for 5 essential router security settings.
4. Never keep a device’s default password. One critical mistake people make is not changing default passwords on things like their modem or router. This makes it ridiculously easy for a hacker to take control of your network. Check your router’s manual for specific instructions on how to change the default settings. While you’re at it, choose the WPA2 Advanced Encryption Standard setting on your router. Can’t find your user manual? Tap or click here to look up thousands of user manuals online for free.
5. Secure your tech. There are new hacks, malicious codes and clever ways to break into your system coming out nearly every day — and you can bet any organized foreign attack will be sophisticated. Free antivirus software probably won’t cut it. No matter what antivirus software you choose, be sure it is robust enough to eliminate viruses, trojans, ransomware, adware and spyware. Your computer isn’t the only potential target — don’t forget about protecting your phone and tablet too.
6. Back up your files. The best way to defend against a devastating ransomware attack is to eliminate the threat of losing your data. That’s why backing up all your files, including your photos and videos, is so important. A good rule of thumb for data backup is the 3-2-1 rule. Keep three copies of your important files: two on different storage media and one preserved in an off-site location or in the cloud. This practice ensures your information is recoverable, even if one or two backups are destroyed. Tap or click here to learn how to back up your data like a pro.
7. Save hard copies of information you normally keep in digital form. If the internet and power go out, what contact information do you want to have on hand? Write down important phone numbers and keep them in a secure place so you’re not relying on internet connectivity or gadgets.
8. Have an emergency supply of food and water on hand. It’s a good idea to have bottled water and some non-perishable food available; try to have enough to last at least two weeks. Be sure you have enough prescription drugs for a week and it’s a great idea to have cash on hand, too.
9. Keep supplies like candles, matches, batteries and flashlights around the house. An emergency power source is also a good idea. It’s worth investing in and regularly charging a handful of portable batteries to keep your phone powered on should the power go out.
The federal government has even more tips to help you create a plan. Tap or click here to find more helpful information. Follow these tips and you’ll be ready if the worst happens.
BONUS TIP FOR EXTRA KNOW-HOW: 5 sneaky ways hackers can steal your data
Data is worth its weight in gold. Companies exist specifically to collect user data to sell to the highest bidder. You may have heard of a few of these companies, like Facebook and Google.
Of course, big corporations aren’t the only ones after your data. Hackers and cybercriminals steal and launder private information and use it for everything from identity theft to building spam mailing lists.
To protect yourself, it’s important to understand scammers’ methods. Here are five tricks criminals use every day and how to combat them.
What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.