There’s a classic TV commercial from Fram the oil filter company. In it, two seasoned mechanics suggest investing in a more expensive oil filter than a cheaper version, saying that “you’ll pay me now or pay me later” (for an engine rebuild).
The commercial couldn’t be more spot-on when it comes to security.
Despite billions being spent by the world’s largest corporations to combat fraud, losses continue to spiral.
Just like in the commercial, it makes so much more sense to invest just a little time and money upfront. By getting the best products available, and periodically working to regularly tighten security, you not only maintain peace of mind but will also likely not have to go through the pain of trying to get back your money once it’s been stolen.
Security is a process, not a product. We spend an inordinate of time and money making sure that we’re secure. So we thought, why not share some of the methods we’re using with our clients. Here they are, in order.
1. Turn on your automatic updates.
Microsoft Windows will patch itself automatically each month on ‘Patch Tuesday’ and this is the easiest way to ensure that you don’t forget to do so. New viruses come out daily so without the proper Operating System patches, you’ll be infected quickly.
Remember that unless Microsoft is particularly worried about a virus spreading by itself, you’ll only get patches once a month. This means that for a large period of time throughout the month you’ll be vulnerable. So take the time to check manually from time to time by clicking
Windows Start Button/Control Panel/Windows Update.
2. Use Gmail for your email.
Google has 20,000+ computer engineers working on your behalf. By using their free software, versus an old copy of Outlook or the email that comes from your phone company, you can leverage all of that brainpower. Gmail will cut out 99+% of spam and viruses proactively before you ever see them.
3. Use a top-rated security suite and a VPN.
You can and should encrypt all of your web traffic by using a Virtual Private Network. This will often come with a security suite such as Norton or Malwarebytes or you can purchase a service individually. Each year computer security monitoring services rank both the best Security Suites and VPN’s.
4. Get a phone with a biometric fingerprint scanner and the latest Operating System version.
Used phones are not like used cars. You don’t save any money in the long run by using a phone that is out of date. Rather, if your phone is more than a couple of years old it’s likely costing you money as it is both slow and insecure. Remember that with every new system update, things get both easier to use and more secure by default.
You’ll typically get 3 years of security updates with a new phone. Once your vendor stops updating them, it’s time to get a new unit whether the old one still works or not.
Power Tip: If you are using an Android phone, the Google line up of Pixel phones updates their phones months ahead of all others. New Apple products are still the most secure of all, however due to their closed ecosystem.
5. Turn on 2 Factor Authentication and get a FIDO Security Key
Two Factor Authentication (2fa) means you need to forms of authentication to log in. This will often take the form of a text being sent to your phone or a question from your bank that only you should know (What public school did you attend?).
6. Use Firefox and/or Install Privacy focused Browser Extensions
Firefox is the most secure web browser to use as it blocks sites from tracking you by default. That said, if you use browser extensions, you’ll lose some functionality when using it vs Google Chrome. In any case, it makes sense to install web browser extensions on your desktop computer to stop companies spying on you.
Here are 5 browser extensions that will dramatically reduce your exposure.
Stops programs on your machine from copying from your clipboard or browser.
Forces a secure https connection where possible.
Blocks ads and trackers while speeding up your browsing
Stops 3rd party cookies and cross-site tracking
Stops scripts trying spy on you
7. Tighten up your social profiles and online activity
Social media is typically wide open for abuse by default. It is imperative to restrict access to protect yourself. This can be complex so consider the use of a privacy app that has specifically been built to protect you.
Jumbo is an iOS app you can download that will automate the process of tightening up your profiles and cleaning up the mess that you’ve already no doubt left behind. It needs your PW’s to your accounts but it leaves them on your device in an encrypted format.
8. Check for any processor and video driver updates
Your Windows patches are not the only thing that needs updating. If you want to be really thorough, you should also check for updates for your computer chip and video card.
Intel has a Driver and Support Assistant program you can install which will scan your computer for what is out of date. Most video card vendors offer similar utilities.
9. Get a Password Manager
Once you’ve gone through all of the steps above, consider a password manager. You will you save yourself countless amounts of frustration and time vs looking for passwords scribbled onto paper. You can also share out passwords individually or on mass with people you trust. Top candidates include Passpack, Last Pass and 1Password.