Articles by Upendo Ventures

We "Upendo" to Write for You!

Our team loves to share our thoughts, research, experiences here in our blog. Please enjoy our articles and leave a comment to let us know what you think.

5 Simple Tips Anyone Can Do to Protect Yourself and Your Business Online

Upendo Ventures: Security

Ever since computers have been widely available, we seem to be in a never-ending battle against the “bad guys” online.  They’re constantly trying to hack us, steal our private information, create fake identities, and so many other nefarious acts.  It’s difficult to keep up with all of the latest details and exploits that you could potentially be exploited by.  Here are a few tips to make your life a bit more worry-free, as well as protect you and your business at the same time.

This isn’t a fully comprehensive list, of course, but these tips will get you a long way towards being safe(r) online.  By the way, these tips are all relevant to all of your devices.  It doesn’t matter if you’re on a laptop, mobile phone, Android, Windows, or iOS.  All of these systems are just as susceptible.  Some are just attacked more often than others. 

Are You A Target? Uh… Yep. You Are.

Do you think this doesn’t apply to you because no one wants to hack you? Think again.  Hackers only target specific people when there’s a reason to.  If you’re a billionaire, for example, you’ll want to have additional layers of security.  If you’re just a “normal” person, you’ll be attacked for sure.  It will just be automated.  The hackers will never know your name.  A “bot” will simply scour the web and you’ll be on the list.  This is because every day there are new easy-to-find lists of personal details posted to what’s called the “dark web” that power these bots. 

Don’t believe me?  I don’t blame you.  Run your name in the infamous Have I Been Pwned website.  Don’t worry.  That website is not run by the bad guys. 

Keep Your Software Updated

I know it’s a pain, but it’s well worth the benefit.  Run and install all available updates for your computer, phone, and apps on a regular basis.  This alone can save you tons of potential nightmares.  Whether it’s Windows Updates or otherwise, software vendors are regularly adding security related updates, in addition to that new widget feature that you were waiting for.  This is the preventable root cause for the ransomeware exploit that’s exploited the City of Baltimore.

Never Trust Links or Downloads in E-Mails

This sounds like old news, but it really isn’t.  To this day, one of the most common and successful ways that hackers compromise people online is through their e-mail.  Just ask Anthem Health Insurance, who allowed nearly 80 million personal records to be breached by a single phishing e-mail.  You need to be always on the look-out for attempts to trick you into clicking a link or downloading a file that will be used to steal your information or infect your computer with a virus, rootkit, or other malware.  How do you protect yourself?  It’s actually quite easy.

Always be suspicious of any link or file in an e-mail if you’re not expecting it.  It goes without saying that you should guard against those whom you don’t know, but people and brands you trust in you network and contact list are the most common source of these kinds of attacks.  Attackers know that you’ll be less cautious of e-mails from your loved ones, as an example, so they’ll infect their computer and send e-mails on their behalf without them even knowing it. 

If you’re not expecting the link or attachment and it seems out of place in any way, simply do this as a habit…

  1. Reply and ask them if they meant to send it.  (And that’s usually all you need to do.) 
  2. Manually type the URL into your web browser.  (Especially if it’s from a brand.) 
  3. Unsubscribe from ALL newsletters that you don’t regularly read.  (Yes.  All of them.  That coupon that you’ll end up using in 4 years isn’t worth your time.) 

Use Different Logins on All Websites/Service

We’ve written about this before.  It’s super easy to never have to remember your log in again.  This means that you can have different login names and passwords across all of your websites and apps of choice.  Doing this keeps you so much safer.  Simply put, no website or app is safe from hacks.  Not every hack is directly code-related, even.  So it’s inevitable that data will be breached for one or many of your favorite software vendors.  The key here is that is Website A is hacked and they grab your login, you don’t have to worry about websites B through Z because they have different login details.  This is a huge win for you!

Install Antivirus Software

Don’t shake your head… Yes.  There are people who actually do run their computers and other devices without antivirus software.  Just don’t do this.  Don’t.  Go right now and make sure you have antivirus installed on all of your devices.  It’s 100% worth paying for.  I’ll wait…

Awesome.  Well done! 

Now, make sure your antivirus program stays updated and it runs regularly.  You can probably let it run 1-4 times a month, but I’d prefer overnight every day.  Most often, you may not even know your computer has been infected.  This will help you recover faster, should a virus actually make it into your computer.

Oh, and if you do download something from any website or e-mail, be sure to use this antivirus software to scan it before you open it (unless it scans it automatically for you). 

Use a VPN

A VPN is a virtual private network.  They’ve recently become more popular in our global economy with businesspeople traveling to places like China.  When overseas, the VPN allows you to still access US-based websites that would otherwise be blocked, such as Gmail. 

This technology is pretty much what it sounds like.  When it’s turned on, your internet connection is protected in a way that prevents evil-doers from intercepting and changing your internet traffic.  Without this enabled, every single piece of information flowing to and from your devices in a coffee shop is easily accessed and changed when you’re logged into the wifi at your favorite coffee shop.  This kind of danger was originally made really famous with the firesheep hack that scared social network website owners to immediately enable SSL

There really isn’t any work to do here.  Most VPN’s are super cheap, install on all of your devices, and can be configured to automatically connect whenever you connect to a wifi hotspot.  I got mine from PureVPN for $5/month, but it’s even cheaper now.  That’s the price of a cup of coffee at Peet’s Coffee, as a trade for peace of mind whenever checking the balance on my credit card or bank accounts. 

Monitor Your Credit

Lastly, and this is an important one… Sign up for at least one credit monitoring service.  This is equally as important even if you don’t have a pleasant credit score.  Why, you ask?  Simple.  Credit monitoring services like Credit Karma and Experian will notify you when any events happen to your credit profile.  This includes credit inquiries, arrest record, new accounts opening, and many other activities.  So, if someone steals your personal details from one of those online repositories (or tricks you into giving it up), you’ll know instantly and you can dispute the activity before you get arrested due to a stolen identity.   Sadly, if you don’t catch it fast enough, a stolen identity can last you a lifetime.  (By the way, this tip has the added benefit of improving your credit, if you’re not already focusing on it.)

That’s it for now.  What did you think about our list?  Do you have any tips of your own?  Leave a comment below. 

Contact Us
Let's Chat!

We'd love to work with you. Let's talk about how.

Contact Us


About the Author

Will StrohlFounder & CEO
Upendo Ventures
Overall, Will has nearly 20 years of experience helping website owners become more successful in all areas, including mentoring, website development, marketing, strategy, e-commerce, and more.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Newsletter

Loading

About Our Company

We are a values-based company who provides technical and leadership services in a wide variety of areas. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

Get In Touch

  • Email: [email protected]

  • Phone: (650) 381-9160

  • Address: 548 Market St. #65401
    San Francisco, CA 94104