CYBER-ATTACKS RISING DUE TO COVID-19: HOW TO PREVENT 99% OF ACCOUNT HACKS
Internet use has skyrocketed 75% or more, depending on where you are in the world. Especially remote access connections (work/school) and social-media use. As billions of people are now stuck in their homes to help stop the spread of COVID-19 — much of it spent online — the hackers have also been busy taking advantage of the panic. Malware, phishing attempts, data breaches, ransomware and all manner of cyber attacks have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever you should take precautions by implementing Two Factor (TFA) or Multi Factor Authentication (MFA), which will prevent 99% of most common account breaches.
A SIMPLE WAY TO PREVENT 99& OF COMMON ACCOUNT HACKS
Changing your password regularly or even using long complex passphrases (which you should anyway) are NO LONGER ENOUGH to protect yourself. The rise in global cyber attacks due to COVID-19, has significantly reinforced the need to ramp up your personal security practices. Most security experts will tell you the same thing. The first step is to use Two/Multi-Factor Authentication (TFA/MFA) for all you important accounts, starting with EMAIL We all use our email addresses for creating accounts on different sites. If your main email account is hacked, it could open the door to many of those other accounts being hacked as well. Along with being able to access password reset emails for those other accounts, the hacker may also access any saved username and password combinations which came in through that account. So start with email, then maybe social-media, any payment sites like PayPal and then consider adding TFA/MFA to all of your other critical online accounts and services.
SETTING UP TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
TFA/MFA works by combining something you know (username/password) with something you own (cell phone for instance). When you set up TFA/MFA the first time you will get a code sent through SMS (text message) to your phone. Or, depending on the options available for TFA/MFA with your service/email, you may also be able to use email or a code generation app/tool. But you DONT HAVE TO DO THIS EVERY TIME you login. Once you have authenticated the first time with TFA/MFA you can (usually) check a box somewhere so your browser/location is trusted, and then you won’t need to login with the code unless you use a different computer or device, login from a different location/IP, or completely flush your cache and cookies. Hackers of course — coming from a different computer and location — will be prompted for the secondary authentication method each time, preventing them from getting in.
So do yourself a favour and protect your online life from those COVID-19-panic-exploiting hackers. Start by setting up TFA/MFA for your email account FIRST, followed by any other important accounts like payment systems and banking, social-media and even your business website(s). Below are links to some common services and how to set up TFA/MFA. If yours is not listed, just search Google for “how to setup two factor authentication for <service name>”.
- Google/Gmail: https://bit.ly/3dQJGN8
- AppleID/email: https://goo.gl/xqb2dA
- Microsoft/Outlook/Hotmail: https://goo.gl/CvAL3C
- Yahoo/Mail: https://goo.gl/wQGXKw
- Facebook: https://goo.gl/FDbqQD
- Twitter: https://goo.gl/AfPX9y
- Linkedin: https://goo.gl/3eiPbn
NOTE: Since your phone will become very important for accessing your accounts, should you lose your phone you will need to use/configure an alternate cell phone number from a friend, or use backup-codes for that service — most TFA/MFA options offer both. Many services also allow a third-party Code Generator. So after setting up your TFA/MFA for an important account, ask a friend or family member if they can be used as a backup phone to receive a code (not all TFA/MFA services support this). Most also allow you to download a set of backup codes which you can print out or send to another email account in case you lose your phone, or have no backup cell number.
Originally published on Technology Zen