“I am connected, therefore I am protected!”

By Risk Performance and Technology group

Original, as it appears on Finance et Investissement – https://www.finance-investissement.com/

In 1997, the democratization of the Internet was all the rage, and the sound of 56K modems resonated throughout our cottages. A computer, with its heavy cathode-ray screen, bought for the price of gold had the proud place of honour on the desk of the patriarch, who formally forbade anyone from installing games or the content from CD-ROMs found in magazines.

Twenty years later, in 2017, a more modern, smaller, sexier computer still sits on the patriarch’s desk. It is sometimes abandoned in favour of tablets and smartphones connected by silent, invisible waves on the high-speed planetary network, which has been suffering from virtual morbid bulimia for several years.

Well, okay, here ends the litany to give you really good reasons and techniques to protect yourself.

You certainly must have seen where I was headed. Today, our phones and tablets are faster and more exposed than the computers of the past. They do everything expected of a computer while resting in the palm of our hand. Many of you are responsible for your technological environment and/or use your personal mobile devices for client data, transactions and business.

Know that the legal conditions of the major providers of free cloud storage and personal messaging services (which you have accepted) are most certainly contrary to the confidentiality agreements that you have with your clients and partners. In fact, most of them reserve the right to do as they please with the data you have entrusted to them. Will they? Perhaps not, but, in the meantime, you are the only one responsible for this legal non-compliance.

“Connected computer device = antivirus” must be an automatic response!

But do you also know that anti-malware is required today?

In 2007, antivirus software was an automatic response; 10 years later, the threat has become more complex, making anti-malware a necessity.

There is free antivirus software (such as Avira, AVG, Safe360, and Avast.) and anti-malware (such as Malwarebytes, Ad-Aware, and Spybot). Protective solutions (such as Kaspersky, Bit Defender, and Este) are also available for a fee and are a very wise choice (comparisons to help you decide abound on the Web, including protect-yourself.ca, clubic.com, and lemeilleurantivirus.fr). And, if you wish to limit your investment in time and increase your peace of mind, forget people and ensure the protection of your Mac computer, Linux operating system or iPhone is foolproof. The vulnerability of these devices has been demonstrated on several occasions over the past five years.

Antivirus and anti-malware software can be installed on a tablet or smartphone just like all other mobile applications by searching the name of the application on Google Play for Android, AppStore for Apple, AppManager for Blackberry, or Store for Microsoft.

Remember that “a computer, smartphone or other electronic device that is connected must be protected”.

Protection is also a matter of behaviour. If you use the same password everywhere and bits of this password are part of everyday vocabulary, it’s very simple to corrupt it.

I’ll give you the best way of proceeding in 2017: Create a dynamic password with 14 characters or more. What is a dynamic password? If you have an account on Amazon, Yahoo, Hotmail or other Google sites and you have been using the same password everywhere for several years, that is very bad!

Here is how to change all of that

Instead of keeping several very complicated passwords, use one method to make them up: the first characters represent the name of the service you want to connect to; for example, for Amazon, use the first four letters in capitals “AMAZ”, then a separator, such as “+”, then a word that is meaningful for you, such as the name of a dog, “Chouchou”, then another separator, such as “-” and the current year (which you won’t forget to change the following year), giving you “AMAZ+Chouchou-2017”. It’s that simple!

Using the same method would give you “HOTM+Chouchou-2017″ on your Hotmail account, ” ITUN+Chouchou-2017″ on your iTunes™ account, and so on.

The following is a good site to test the strength of your new password: https://howsecureismypassword.net/.

You can also use password keeper software (although I firmly believe in the demonstrated and proven effectiveness of our brains), and I also advise you to activate strong or double  authentication when technically possible, on your messaging, social media and online purchasing accounts.

All that remains is for you to stay far, far away from, sensationalist, pornographic, non-government online lottery and gambling sites, and sites promising free-streaming televised series and movies (usually on pay or subscription channels).

Keep your devices up to date; when your builder or operating system suggests an update, it is always better to install it. Better to experience a few slowdowns or performance problems than ransomware or a bad computer infection that cannot be easily removed.

You can now check whether one of your online accounts has been corrupted by consulting breachalarm.com, or visit the French-language site nothing-to-hide.fr to evaluate the security of your social media publication practices. You can also partly understand the extent of the possible correlation that can be made with your Facebook data by visiting: http://www.wolframalpha.com/facebook/

No more excuses. You have the tools, are familiar with them and are now informed.

It’s up to you!