Episode 021: Best Practices for Digital Security

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With no guest joining Avery on this episode, she takes the time to talk about a very important subject — digital security. In today’s show, she shares practical advice that anyone can use in a more convenience-based lifestyle. She covers everything from things to watch out for, to how differences devices might be affected, as well as sharing some tips and resources to improve your digital security practices.

Click to tweet: “Digital security is a mindset, something to be practiced daily” - Avery Swartz

Episode Highlights:

  • Digital Security
  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Setup: Computers, Smart Phones, Websites
  • Phishing
  • Data Breaches
  • Password Management
  • Updating Operating Systems
  • Secure messaging
  • Two-Step Authentication
  • Virtual Private Networks
  • Anti-Virus Software
  • Malvertisements
  • Email Security


Key Takeaways:

[2:05] Many small businesses don’t always have their own dedicated IT department; in addition to installing software and getting email set-up, they also have to worry about security. There are things that could go wrong, and it’s important to have your security properly configured, to protect yourself and your information.

[4:31] The number one threat seems to be people getting Malware. Malware is an umbrella term that covers all sorts of bad things that could happen to your computer. This might happen if someone is trying to control your computer, or trying to spread something else around. People are also getting into the “Malware scene” for money (Ransomware). The average ransom demand is $649, and 43% of Ransomware victims are employees within organizations.

[8:29] Digital security should be practiced daily; it should become a habit just as your physical safety is.

[9:27] Setup: computers, smartphones, websites. Websites have security issues, and if you are the owner of a website, you need to make sure you’re thinking about security for your website. For computers, Macs tend to be a little more secure than PC’s, but they are still susceptible to viruses, etc. Owners of both computers need to configure their computers correctly. As with computers, if you have a smartphone there are safety and security vulnerabilities (Android phones more so than iPhones or other iOS devices).

[11:53] Once you have things setup, it will become a day-to-day practice of digital security. The two biggest vulnerabilities of digital security today are phishing emails and data breaches.

[12:36] Phishing emails are spam emails that come in, but they are getting much better. They may look like they’re coming from people or a company you know, and the messages are starting to look legitimate and professional. If you follow the links provided, your computer may get infected with a virus, or you might be tricked into sharing some kind of secure information you wouldn’t want to share. Be very careful when you’re checking your email — check out the link destinations and the file names to discern legitimacy before you click it.

[15:27] With so many digital accounts, it is (unfortunately) highly possible that platforms will have a data breach. Password management — and having a different password for different logins — is very important. If, for some reason, your password gets shared in a data breach, and you only have one password, someone could easily access several of your accounts with one password. Avery suggests using a password manager.

[20:51] Keep everything updated, especially on your phone. Updating the apps and the operating system on your phone is one of the number one ways to block security vulnerabilities. Many times when there is an update, it is for a security patch.

[21:54] If you use your phone to message people, some messaging apps aren’t totally secure. The most secure app Avery recommends is Signal, which offers end-to-end encryption.

[23:30] If a program offers you two-step authentication, use it! This system allows you to log in with your password, and then provides a second verification on another device before logging you in.

[24:42] VPN: Virtual Private Network. A VPN makes sure that whatever you’re doing online is encrypted. Whenever you’re on an open wifi source, you definitely need to turn on a VPN. They should work on any number of devices.

[26:52] Anti-virus software is generally not very effective — it’s not fast enough to keep up, and it can give you a false sense of security. Avery doesn’t recommend running anti-virus software, but rather encourages best practices of digital security on a routine basis. This includes blocking advertisements from your web browser.

[29:43] Avery talks about security of email — they are about as secure as sending a postcard in the mail. Be very careful about the amount and type of information you are sending or attaching into an email. Good alternatives to email: fax machine, cloud-computing solutions, or a unique sharing tool: One Time Secret.


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