Here are 5 ways you can better protect your family and yourself from being a victim of cyber crime.

Stop Using Your Favorite Password: 

People often get hooked on what they think is a cute or perfect password and therefore reuse the password over and over.  If this reused password is for a company that gets breached, your login credentials could be exposed and even put on display out on the dark web. Any hacker can pick up your credentials, and then start trying them in other places such as the major banks and stores.


  1. Use a password manager like Google, LastPass, 1Password, or BitWarden which is free for personal use.  Allow it to set a different complex passwords for every account. If you forget a password, just reset it again.
  2. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) to your advantage. Enable MFA on all accounts that contain financial or personal information. Go passwordless when possible by taking advantage of MFA.

Stop Trusting:  

This is very hard for many people, but you must become a “Zero Trust” person.  Fakes are getting more and more sophisticated. With AI, even your own family can now be faked! 


  1. Verify every link before clicking it by hovering over the URL to see if it is legitimate.
  2. Create Family Code Words to keep you and them safe. 
    • Validation Code Word: Teach your family validation and response words. Such as, when you say “Dead Cat” they respond with a past pet.  Or use a term like “Uncle” and they have to respond “Bernie.
    • Safety Code Word:  Teach your family a Safety Code word like a “Bug-out” word. If they hear it, they know danger is near and to take cover or, if they say the word on the phone, you know they are in trouble.  Pick a unique word, but one that can still be used in a sentence such as “Alabama” or “Frankie.”

Stop Sharing Access to Your Life:

Cyber criminals are looking to use your information against you. Your digital history provides many insights for criminals to socially engineer you into thinking they are legitimate.


  1. Limit Sharing Personal Information on Social media. The more information you share, the more information the cyber criminals can use against you and your family.
  2. Never Share Access to your computer or accounts, unless you initiate the contact. This including not sharing screens or MFA codes.
  3. Disallow Tracking:  Prevent firms from collecting data on you.
    • Good:  Use DuckDuckGo instead of Chrome for a browser.
    • Better:  Use a VPN to hide your IP address and identity.
    • Best:  Use a secure isolated workspace like this: Secure Desktop – Video

Stop Storing Data on Your Device: 

Laptops, and desktops can become corrupted, breached, or locked up with ransomware.  Use your devices only for applications.  This way, if the system gets corrupted, it can be wiped clean and reset easily.


  1. Use Cloud Storage:  Store all of your documents, photos, and presentations on a cloud drive like Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive. Those are much more secure storage options and you get the added benefit of being able to access your documents from any computer.

Stop Reacting Quickly: 

Cyber criminals prey on your stress or excitement because it is harder to make good decisions when you are pressured.


  1. Beware of Urgency: When someone is pressuring you to make a decision, they are in control of the situation.  When you feel pressured, it is more likely someone trying to take advantage of you. Take a deep breath before you react and consider if it could be a scam.
  2. If it sounds too good to be true – It likely is. Scammers prey on people who get excited when a big discount and timer pop up.  Never make buying decisions when pressured.
  3. Use Banking Alerts:  Set up text alerts for every credit card and banking transaction. So you know when charges hit your accounts. This allows you to react quickly if you have been scammed.

By following these practices, you will be much better prepared to protect yourself and family against the cyber attacks that will be coming your way.

About Tim Howard

Tim Howard is the founder of 5 technology firms including Fortify Experts which helps companies hire the Best Cyber Talent on the Planet, provides vCISO/Advisory consulting, and NIST-based 3rd party security assessments.

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