3DSC 2.28: Obscure Your Phone Number

Your phone number may not seem like a big deal. You give it out to nearly everyone one – and every service – in your life. I believe that your phone number is more important than your social security number as an individual identifier. Your phone number is linked to your entire digital trail – your public online accounts, the dossiers private data broker have on you, your mortgage information, your medical history, the location of every place you have ever taken your mobile device, and every person to whom you have placed a call or text message, how long the call lasted, and where it originated. Phone companies also typically don’t do a great job of protecting this information. I think you should make ever effort within your power to obscure your real phone number. Continue reading “3DSC 2.28: Obscure Your Phone Number”

3DSC 2.27: Secure Your Communications

Today we will wrap up our three-day mini-series covering smartphone security.  Your call history and text messages are available to your mobile service provider.  They are also available to malicious parties that can hack your service provider.  Your phone calls and text messages are also available to anyone with certain technology.  Though IMSI-catchers like the Stingray are only available to law enforcement, today’s state “secrets become tomorrow’s PhD theses and the next day’s hacker tools.”  Continue reading “3DSC 2.27: Secure Your Communications”

3DSC 2.24: Smartphone Security Part II

Today’s task is to encrypt your device and put a (better) passcode on it.  I realize that most of you probably have a passcode on your mobile phone, but many out there don’t.  Even if you do I want to make those passcodes better; this is a critical step in smartphone security.  Phones are much more easily lost or stolen than your laptop and they carry a wealth of information about you.  You should protect the data that is on your phone. Continue reading “3DSC 2.24: Smartphone Security Part II”

3DSC 2.23: Smartphone Security Part I

Today we will move into securing our mobile devices. At this point your laptop and desktop computers should be reasonably well-protected. Smartphones and tablets have the potential to represent an even greater attack surface is not secured properly. today’s task is to ensure your smartphone OS  and all installed apps are updated. Ensuring all software is updated is the single greatest security measure you can take to protect your device from malware. Continue reading “3DSC 2.23: Smartphone Security Part I”

3DSC 2.22: Use Private Payment Methods

At this point your personal credit should be locked down pretty tightly. With your credit report in hand, you have reasonable certainty that your credit has not been stolen. With a credit freeze initiated, you don’t have to worry about anyone opening new lines of credit in your name. However, these previous techniques do nothing to protect your existing accounts, so it is still important to protect your credit card numbers. Today, you should set yourself up to use private payment methods.

Continue reading “3DSC 2.22: Use Private Payment Methods”

3DSC 2.21 – Request Your Free Annual Credit Report

Identity theft is an increasingly common crime. The fallout from an identity theft can be financially ruinous. If you are not already doing so, you should request your free annual credit report(s). Continue reading “3DSC 2.21 – Request Your Free Annual Credit Report”

3DSC 2.20 – Initiate a Credit Freeze

Identity theft is an incredibly invasive and potentially devastating form of crime.  It can cost tens of thousands of dollars, ruin credit, and consume countless hours of time.  One of the best tools for preventing identity theft is what is known as a credit freeze (sometimes called a security freeze).    Today’s task is to initiate a credit freeze for yourself and all members of your family, including your children.  If your children have a social security number they, too are vulnerable to identity theft. Continue reading “3DSC 2.20 – Initiate a Credit Freeze”

3DSC 2.18: Clean Up Your Digital Clutter

Today I am going to ask you to to take a step that will reduce your attack surface online: clean up your digital clutter by identifying and closing unused accounts. Online accounts exist in what I like to call “enemy territory”. The are on hardware that you do not control, owned by companies that make very few promises to you about how they will handle your data, and as public-facing sites, are subject to far greater risk than your home computer. Accounts you no longer use represent nothing but risk. Continue reading “3DSC 2.18: Clean Up Your Digital Clutter”

3DSC 2.16: Use Unique Usernames for Online Accounts

Giving out your email address can introduce some vulnerabilities.  While most of these are privacy concerns, there are some security concerns with this, as well.  Your email address is attached to your “real” accounts.  This allows advertisers, data-aggregators, and hackers to see linkage between your accounts.  Security-wise, your email address is your username for some services.  If an attacker tries to hack one of your accounts (your Amazon.com, bank, or Facebook account), he or she probably already knows your username. Continue reading “3DSC 2.16: Use Unique Usernames for Online Accounts”