Secure Yourself Now
Secure Yourself Now
You signed up for this course to improve yourself, to learn how to secure yourself online, and to help others. That's what this section is dedicated to. If you finish this section and don't do anything else, your participation in this course will be a success in my eyes.
Of course, I would prefer you to continue in the course, but I'm glad you are here, and I hope you stick around.
If you have experience in this field you might know everything I am about to tell you, but I'm going to tell you it again. If you have strong opinions on things like this, you might not like that my advice defaults to a Windows OS and using Chrome. I don't have strong opinions on this, but they have the most market share and I am writing this for a very broad audience. If you are on a Mac, already running Linux, or use a different browser than Chrome, read along and just know some of the specifics will not apply to you.
My first recommendation is to start using a password manager such as LastPass, Keepass, or 1Password. Even Apple and Google have built in ones for your browser these days. If you haven't heard of them before, what password managers do is recommend randomized passwords to you when you sign up to a site, store the password, and then autofill the password for you when you are logging into the site the next time. This is very helpful because the human brain can only remember so many passwords, which leads us to reuse passwords across different sites. The problem with this is that if you use the same password on all of your accounts, if someone steals that password at one site, they now have the ability to log into any of your accounts. Password managers help you maintain track of a bunch of strong, unique passwords, which limits the most likely threat that you have online.
If you don't like trusting random internet people who tell you to download things in the first 5 minutes they know you, good call: I respect that. If you trust me, I recommend using LastPass. There's plenty of other great password managers out there, but I've been using this one forever and that is the main reason I recommend it. Convince your friends and family to use password managers. Again, I totally get if you don't want to do this now, just skip it. If you want to learn more about password managers, check this link out.
Your second task, if you do not already have one installed, is to install an ad-blocking extension. Ad-blockers do what they say they do, making your web experience more visually attractive and faster, but also block trackers and lessen the chance of getting malware-laden ads. For Chrome, I recommend uBlock Origin: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ublock-origin/cjpalhdlnbpafiamejdnhcphjbkeiagm?hl=en. I don't use Firefox, but it has an ad-blocker built in which makes it one of the best choices for the privacy and security conscious. I also recommend installing Chrome and ad-blockers (or Firefox) on as many computers of friends and family that you do tech support for. Again, if you don't want to do this now, skip it.
You always like to assume you don't already have malware on your computer but if you are working off of a shared computer, there are no guarantees. First, ensure that Windows Defender is enabled. If it isn't, turn it on. After you've done that, turn on automatic updates and ensure your computer is completely updated. If it isn't, update now. Once again, do this on as many computers as you are responsible for. I don't really recommend adding 3rd party antivirus solutions, so the best I can tell you is to avoid installing sketchy programs. If you believe that your computer has some sort of malware on it but Windows Defender isn't removing it, run MalwareBytes and see what if anything is detected. If MalwareBytes and Windows says you're good, you're probably good.
I don't care much for VPNs because I don't care about ad tracking and I'm not in a country where I worry about my internet browsing being monitored. As long as you are using HTTPS sites and not clicking through bad certificates, you shouldn't have to worry about getting your credit card or passwords stolen.
While this stuff might seem obvious, doing the fundamentals will make you significantly more secure than the average internet citizen. We're not trying to turn you into a cyber warlord yet, we'll start with being a hard target and generally informed.