Personal security is a big deal for all of us, especially in a time of Covid-19. The crooks are out in cyberspace looking for ways to pickpocket our life savings, without us ever leaving our homes. I’ll give a little advice about emails, phone calls, computers and other internet devices that can help protect us.
Change your passwords
As frustrating as it is to maintain so many passwords, you want to change them. Consider using a phrase, instead of a word, because the more characters you have, the harder it is to hack. Consider downloading and using a password software, which organizes all your passwords. But don’t save passwords in your web browser because if you’re hacked, then all your passwords are visible.
Don’t willy-nilly click an e-mail link
Don’t blindly trust that any e-mail you receive from any authority, like a government or official organization, is reliable. Sometimes an e-mail looks like it comes from a friend or reliable source but it’s a fake. It has a hyperlink to a website with vicious software that automatically harms your computer—and attempts to steal your confidential information.
Before you click a link inside an e-mail, visit the website instead. For example, every Periscope email also appears on our website, you can see for yourself today. Look in the web browser address field, at the top, and make sure that you see “https” and the address of your destination, not something sneaky or strange.
If you’re worried about a hyperlink, push your mouse over the link without clicking it. A new hyperlink may appear—which would take you somewhere else—then you know you’re dealing with a scammer.
Also, verify the e-mail address of the sender is actually their e-mail address. If you’re looking for an e-mail from Firstname@assetsandincome.com don’t be fooled by an address that says Firstname@e.assetsandincome.com.
Can you see the difference? It’s not the same website—that “e” may take you somewhere you don’t want to go!
Just in case you’re curious, please don’t visit “e.assetsandincome.com”. To the best of my knowledge, I made that up and it’s not a hacker’s website…but it could be used that way.
You want to update your computer, the software and all your internet-enabled devices too.
Keep your malware and your anti-virus software up to date. Many of these programs are set to automatically renew and update. Make sure yours does too.
Make it a habit to run “Windows > Update” on your home PC. If you’ve not done an update for a long time, be prepared for a long wait. Your computer may have to run many updates.
If you have a Mac, your updates are automatic, but you still need to download Malwarebytes. This important software does not come with your Mac. And, if you don’t choose to pay for Malwarebytes, you need to manually update the free version on Apple computers.
Update your web browser too! In Google Chrome, the update feature sits at the top-right-hand corner and has three dots. Click the dots > About >Update. The Windows and Mac browsers update with the operating system.
Update any other software you have that uses the internet, like video-making software and/or the software that controls your printer.
New “smart” devices are easy for bad people to hack. So update your Smart TV, your modem and any other internet-enabled device you have at home.
Don’t fear the phone call
If you receive a phone call that sounds intimidating or threatening, hang up. Look up the phone number for the organization and call them back to make sure they are real.
For years, now, seniors have received phone calls from (fake) police officers who threaten to lock up our grandchildren. And that scam keeps repeating itself. Other thieves talk about social security, IRS refunds, etc.
This year, the new scam is Coronavirus-related. It’s sometimes a threat, “You owe money to the government.” Sometimes it’s a promise, “We’ll get your Coronavirus payment.” Or worse, the scammers are selling fake Covid-19 treatments and equipment. Check out the FBI alert and/or Google “Covid scams” for a long, long list. (1)
Even savvy individuals can fall victim to fraud. The internet makes it even easier because we are all connected to each other.
If you have some free time this week, why not make the most of your Covid-19 sequestration and update all your devices. Make them safe from a virus too.