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New Year Security Housekeeping

January 4, 2021 Jason Dell




disinfectant-5093503_1920Happy New Year!

Now is a great time to take care of some personal security housekeeping. Although a new year means new complex threats, your best defense is to shore up the basics:

  • Change all of your passwords/pins/passcodes. You may be surprised how long it has been since you have changed the password on some of your personal accounts. You may not even know that one or more of your passwords have been compromised.
  • Use multifactor authentication (MFA, aka 2-factor authentication or 2FA) with any sites and applications that support it. Online banking, online shopping, social media, healthcare sites, online billing, and pretty much ‘online anything else’ very likely has an option to enable MFA. It might be a little challenging to find out where to enable it for some sites. MFA thwarts successful credential phishing attacks.
  • Use a password manager. A password manager is a great way to make sure that you don’t reuse passwords and have passwords of appropriate length and complexity. Using MFA with a password manager is an absolute must! You don’t want one successful phish to give the keys to your kingdom to a bad actor.
  • Update your devices, and update/patch all software. All devices (including IoT) are computers of a sort and are susceptible to vulnerabilities that bad actors can exploit to gain access to data on the device or to use the device as a platform to attack adjacent hosts. The same concept applies to software.

Here are a few great tools that are FREE for personal use, to protect yourself and/or your family at home. Please keep in mind that these are appropriate for personal use, not necessarily for business use:

  • Duo: That’s right, you can get the ‘Duo Free’ package to provide multi-factor authentication and unlimited application integrations for up to 10 users. This is the same Duo that is used in the enterprise (with fewer features, of course).
  • OpenDNS Home’: The core DNS-based technology that Cisco Umbrella was built on. OpenDNS Home is free for personal use. Configure your home network to assign the OpenDNS public name resolvers to protect all Internet-connected devices in your home. Please note that Cisco Umbrella contains far more threat mitigation features than OpenDNS. OpenDNS is meant for the consumer. Umbrella is meant for the Enterprise.

LastPass: A fantastic multi-platform cloud-based password management tool free for personal use. Integrate with Duo Free (see above) for MFA to keep your passwords safe and secure.

  • Immunet: A real-time, cloud-based malware, and antivirus detection software powered by ClamAV. Immunet and ClamAV are maintained by Cisco. Immunet utilizes the same community threat telemetry and cloud computing as Cisco AMP for Endpoints. Immunet can also run as a lightweight companion AV to other Antivirus products for an extra layer of protection.
  • Snort: For the techies and tinkerers out there, Snort is an open-source intrusion prevention system developed by Cisco that is capable of real-time traffic analysis and packet logging. The Community Ruleset is developed by the Snort community and is freely available to all users.
  • DoH (DNS over HTTPS). If you don’t care to have your Internet service provider snooping on your browser activities for analytics data and customized advertising, then consider picking a web browser that supports DoH. DoH sends your DNS queries encrypted to the (DoH-supported) DNS provider of your choice. Configure your web browser to use OpenDNS to provide DoH to secure your DNS queries private.
  • DuckDuckGo: A search engine that blocks trackers and does not collect or share personal information. It is available to set as the default search engine in most popular web browsers and has apps for iOS and Android.

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