TNTMAX’s TOP 15 RECOMMENDATIONS CYBER SECURITY FOR INDIVIDUALS (Detailed List)
IMPORTANT before you start reading our recommendations, say to yourself, “I am a target for hackers.” It does not matter whether or not you hold top secret information or have millions in your bank account – your identity and your computer resources are a target. EVERYONE is a target for cyber criminal “hackers”.
1. UPDATES – MAKE SURE YOU INSTALL SECURITY AND SOFTWARE UPDATES
A critical part of protecting your computer system and home network is to make sure you run all the updates you receive from your software vendor (Microsoft and/or Apple). Perform updates on a regular basis and reboot your system to ensure you are up to date. Do the same thing with your antivirus software, firewall, and wireless access point firmware.
2. PASSWORDS – USE STRONG PASSWORDS
Create strong passwords that include both upper & lower case letters, numbers and special characters with at least 12 to 14 characters. Always use different passwords for each login requirement and do not reuse the same password on multiple sites. Update all your passwords once or twice a year at a minimum.
3. TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION / MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
Utilize multi-factor authentication wherever and whenever possible. Typically this would be a code sent to your cell phone or email after you login to an account with your password. The code, once added, authenticates you into your email, social media and other online services. Two factor authentication (2FA) is a type of multi-factor authentication now supported by most all banks, social media (facebook, instagram, twitter, etc.) as well as most email solutions like (Microsoft 365, Gmail, etc.) and will provide you with much needed additional security.
4. ANTI-VIRUS – USE ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE
One of the most important software that must be installed on all your computers and laptops is a good anti-virus / anti-malware software. We recommend Sophos anti-virus with Interception X. The anti-virus software must be updated on a very regular basis (daily) and any warnings/alerts must be addressed very carefully. Below is a list of anti-virus recommendations.
- Sophos (TNTMAX Recommendation)
- See TNTMAX TOP 10: Anti-Virus & Malware Prevention
5. BACKUP – MAKE SURE YOU BACKUP ALL YOUR DATA
It is very important that you back up your data using a secure encrypted off-site solution that has a good reputation and industry ranking. I would also recommend that you backup locally to a USB FIPS 140-2 Validated 256-Bit Encrypted Hard Drive (see below). Check to make sure the backup is working correctly and perform some spot restores every three to six months. Also, make sure you update the backup procedure to add/or remove any data that needs to be backed up as your digital footprint changes over the years. Below is a list of companies that provide external encrypted devices.
6. FIREWALL – PROTECT YOUR HOME NETWORK
A stateful firewall must be used to protect your home computer network from the internet. When you get internet from your internet service provider (ISP) (ex. Verizon and/or Spectrum), they will tell you they are providing you with a firewall. We do not recommend you trust your ISP’s firewall and we recommend you install your own stateful firewall to protect your home network from the outside world.
7. WIRELESS – PROTECT YOUR HOME WIRELESS NETWORK
Protect your home wireless network by using an advanced encrypted security (AES) setting such as WAP2-AES with a strong key password using a strong password that utilizes upper & lower case characters, number and special characters with a minimum length of 32 to 34 characters.
- Q: Where would I get this?
- A: Any computer store. For example: amazon.com, Micro Center
- Q: What should I ask for?
- A: Make sure the Wireless Access Point supports WPA or EAP-TLS Wireless security encryption.
- Q: Is this something I can set up on my own?
- A: You should be able to set this up on your own with the help of the vendor’s support.
8. SOCIAL MEDIA – LIMIT PERSONAL INFO YOU POST ONLINE
Social Media contains a trove of information that can be used by a criminal to build a profile of their target. The more personal information they have, the better they can socially engineer you into giving away critical personal information they can utilize to steal your identity. Restrict your social media to only your friends and limit the amount of information you put online.
9. TRUSTED SOURCES – ONLY USE TRUSTED SOURCES
Never give out any information over the phone to anyone that calls you, like someone who says they’re calling you from a bank or credit card company. Always verify by calling the company using an invoice or statement you have received from them and ask to speak to a manager about the call you just received. Use a trusted source like the phone number on the invoice from the company you know and not an unknown source where anyone could spoof the phone number and pretend to be from the company you use and use social engineering to trick you into giving pieces of information about your identity.
10. EDUCATE – LEARN HOW TO SPOT PHISHING EMAILS AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Take advantage of online training courses and quizzes on how to recognize a phishing email and learn what NOT to do with email, links, and attachments. Learn how to protect yourself from common attacks sent via email and social media by a criminal to gain access to your system. There is a great deal of information online and on YouTube about phishing emails. See www.tntmax.com for more information and resources.
11. SHREDDER – USE CROSS-CUT PAPER SHREDDER
Use a cross-cut paper shredder to shred every invoice, bill, statement and any other sensitive information you throw into your garbage. Dumpster diving or garbage pilfering provides a criminal looking to steal a user’s identity with a great source of information about you.
12. DIGITAL BILLS & STATEMENTS – SWITCH ALL YOUR BILLS & STATEMENTS TO EMAIL DELIVERY
Stop receiving invoices, statements and other important information in your mailbox, where a criminal can steal mail intended for you and use it for fraud. Call all your vendors, banks and other businesses and financial institutions you get account information via snail mail and opt-in to received email invoices and statements. Try to completely reduce all mail coming to your mailbox to third-party mailers and catalogs. Also, always hold mail delivery when you travel. Use a PO Box instead of your home mailbox for added security.
13. PASSWORD MANAGER TOOL – USE AN AES ENCRYPTED PASSWORD MANAGER
Use advanced encrypted security (AES) password manager tool to store all your passwords, usernames and other confidential information using one very strong password that hs upper & lower case characters, numbers and special characters with a minimum length of 32 to 34 characters and also uses multi-factor authentication. See on our website our Top 10 Password Safe Recommended software https://www.tntmax.com/tntmax-top-10-password-safe-software/
14. MONITOR YOUR CREDIT REPORTS – CREDIT BUREAU
We recommend that you monitor your credit using all three main credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and ask them to provide you with a free yearly credit report. Go through each of the three main agencies’ credit reports in detail to ensure the information is correct and report any abnormalities to them immediately.
15. IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION SERVICE – LIFELOCK
I also recommend you consider getting a paid identify theft protection service, like LifeLock, that monitors your credit history and profile for an annual fee. They will send you alerts every time someone tries to use your identity to open a new bank account or get a new credit card under your name or social security number. This will help you prevent identity theft and is worth the annual fee. NOTE: LifeLock is not the only company that provides this kind of paid service. Listed below are some additional companies that provide paid identity theft protection services.
- LifeLock® Official Site
- IdentityForce® Official Site
- Identity Guard® Official Site
- Comprehensive ID Protection / Costco Member Exclusive
- ID Watchdog
TNTMAX’s TOP 15 CYBER SECURITY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS (Recap)
“I am a target for cybercriminals/hackers”
- UPDATES – MAKE SURE YOU INSTALL SECURITY AND SOFTWARE UPDATES
- PASSWORD – USE STRONG PASSWORDS
- TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION – MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
- ANTI-VIRUS – USE ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE
- BACKUP – MAKE SURE YOU BACKUP ALL YOUR DATA
- FIREWALL – PROTECT YOUR HOME NETWORK
- WIRELESS – PROTECT YOUR HOME WIRELESS NETWORK
- SOCIAL MEDIA – LIMIT PERSONAL INFO YOU POST ONLINE
- TRUSTED SOURCE – ONLY USE TRUSTED SOURCES
- SHREDDER – USE A CROSS-CUT PAPER SHREDDER
- EDUCATE – LEARN HOW TO SPOT PHISHING EMAILS AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
- DIGITAL BILLS & STATEMENTS – SWITCH ALL YOUR BILLS & STATEMENTS TO EMAIL DELIVERY
- PASSWORD MANAGER TOOL – USE AN AES ENCRYPTED PASSWORD MANAGER
- MONITOR YOUR CREDIT REPORTS – CREDIT BUREAU
- IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION SERVICE – LIFELOCK