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Steps to protect against potential Russian cyberattacks
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Security & privacy

The White House issued a cybersecurity list but forgot these vital steps

Though the Russia-Ukraine war seems like something happening far away, its impact has already reached our shores. We’re seeing it in fake emails and social media posts seeking financial aid for the “victims” of the conflict.

There are plenty more scams to watch out for. Crooks are bringing back the classics such as the Nigerian Prince scams and twisting them to suit today’s events. Then there are the more modern tricks involving promises of wealth via cryptocurrency tips. Tap or click here to check out Kim’s list of 10 Russia-Ukraine war scams hitting your email, phone, and social media.

The White House issued a press briefing with a list of cybersecurity tips. We found the list generic while also leaving out some crucial things. Though it was meant for companies, the warning could have been more detailed and useful for individuals. Read on for ways to protect against cyberattacks.

Here’s the backstory

This week the White House held a cybersecurity briefing with a list of things every business should do right now. We found it lacked information, and there was also one glaring omission.

We’ve broken down the list and added recommendations to beef up your security measures.

1. Use multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security when logging into an account. It could be a thumbprint, a bit of information only you know, or a code sent to a device only you have access to.

If you want to secure your accounts further, try an authenticator app, which generates one-time passcodes every 30 seconds that expire quickly. Tap or click here for more information on authenticator apps.

2. Deploy modern security tools

The White House mentions “modern security tools,” but what does that mean? Aside from a VPN, you want a reputable and effective antivirus program that isn’t based in Moscow, such as Kaspersky Lab.

We recommend our sponsor TotalAV, an award-winning security suite that gives you continuous protection while blocking malicious websites and helping you clear out junk. TotalAV protects you from malware, ransomware, spyware, adware and more. It even deletes tracking cookies. TotalAV is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.

Right now, get an annual plan of TotalAV Internet Security for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price.

3. Update and patch everything and change passwords

Update, update, update. Your phone, your computer, your operating system, your security software and more. Turn on auto-updates when possible and go here to check out our report with instructions on updating devices and software.

When it comes to strong and unique passwords, the easiest way to create and keep track of them is with a password manager. A password manager stores and generates login information for all your devices and accounts.

Some browsers come with a password manager built-in, and you can also check out third-party offerings. Tap or click here to learn more about these useful security tools.

4. Back up your data

When backing up your files, you can use a cloud backup service that offers strong encryption for storage. We recommend our sponsor IDrive to back up your PCs, Macs and mobile devices into one account for a low price. Tap or click here to learn more about how it works.

5. Run exercises and drill your emergency plans

Do they want us to simulate a cyberattack and see what happens? This is really aimed more at offices and IT departments.

6. Encrypt your data

The White House briefing mentions data encryption without telling us how to do it. The easiest way to encrypt your data is with a virtual private network — more on that below.

You can also run an encryption check on your router. Go to your router’s admin menu. Under the “Wireless” or “Security” menu, you’ll see the encryption status. If you have an older router, select one that starts with “WPA3.” If your router is not WPA3 compatible, “WPA2-PSK AES” is the next most secure option.

7. Educate your employees on common scam tactics

People are still falling for romance scams and thinking the IRS wants you to pay them in gift cards. Keep a lookout for suspicious emails, text messages and websites. When in doubt, don’t click on a link.

Spelling and grammar errors or a sense of urgency in a message are also red flags. If your device is acting strange or running slowly, run a virus scan. This is where antivirus protection like TotalAV comes in handy.

8. Work with the FBI and CISA to establish relationships in advance of any cyber incidents

Shall we do lunch with the feds? Last week the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued an alert regarding “possible threats to U.S. and international satellite communication (SATCOM) networks.” This was aimed at SATCOM network providers and customers and contained similar tips to the White House’s briefing.

Go to the official CISA and FBI websites for more information. If you think you’ve personally been a cyberattack victim, file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

What’s missing

Where’s the tip on using a virtual private network? A VPN is among your first lines of defense against attack, and it helps resolve many of the issues discussed in the White House’s list.

A VPN provides a layer of protection between your devices and the internet. It hides your IP address and location and encrypts your data after leaving your device. We recommend our sponsor ExpressVPN, which offers protection on all your devices without tracking you or collecting information.

ExpressVPN is easy to set up with just two clicks and has 24-hour chat help. Tap or click here now to check out and try ExpressVPN. Use this link to get three months free when you sign up for a year subscription.

Be prepared

Russia is hurting from America’s sanctions and its economy is in trouble. We should expect retaliation, likely starting with the big networks that carry most of our internet traffic. If this happens, your home and business internet, your smartphone and all ATMs, gas stations and grocery stores can be affected.

Even worse would be an attack on our power grid, which could shut off power and lights in thousands of cities and towns. As the power grid was not designed to be shut down, powering it up again could take days or even weeks.

Have a few things set aside for these emergencies. Cash, prescription meds, a generator, solar packs and a solar charger for your phone. Keep in mind that even if the cell networks go down, you’ll probably still be able to text. Tap or click here for 18 items to help you in any emergency.

Keep reading

True or False: War with Russia could lead to draft

How you can help Ukraine and save almost $7,000 on video games at once

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