7 Tips to Keep Your iPhone Safe

Safe iPhone

As a technical support specialist, I am sharing my top tips to keep your iPhone and your personal information safe.

1. Set Up a Secure Passcode

If your iPhone is lost or stolen, it’s important to make sure it’s locked so only you can easily access your information. iPhones have options to set up a unique 4- or 6-digit passcode that you enter before you can use your phone. You can also set up your iPhone so you can unlock it with your fingerprint, or with Apple’s latest high-end phones, just by showing your full face.

2. Buy a Protective Case

Smartphones can be expensive. If you drop your phone, it could cost hundreds of dollars to fix or even more if you have to replace it. A case for your phone can protect your device and help prevent damage. But make sure you comparison-shop to find a great deal on a case. Try shopping on Amazon to find an affordable option, and read reviews to make sure you’re getting a quality case at a good price.

3. Turn On the “Find My iPhone” Option

Using Find My iPhone will allow you to find your phone if it is ever lost or stolen. You can also enable a feature to erase your phone remotely or have it automatically erased after a number of failed login attempts. Additionally, you can instruct it to play a very loud sound on your iPhone so that you can locate it nearby.

4. Choose Apps Carefully

Not all apps are legitimate and many request access to personal data. Always get your apps directly from the App Store. Research each app, check reviews and read the privacy policy before deciding if you should install it.

5. Keep Your Phone Up-to-Date

Apple releases system updates and other security updates often to keep you safe. Be sure to install these when they become available. You can check what’s current for your iPhone under Settings:About:Software Update.

6. Watch Out for Phishing Email and Text Messages

Do not respond to email or text messages that request personal information or that you don’t recognize. Think about the types of data on your phone: passwords, financial information, health information and other personal information. Once a hacker gains access to your device they can steal all of that data. There’s a full article about that here.

7. Backup Your Phone on a Regular Basis

Phones can crash just like computers, and if you don’t have a backup, you may lose any information that you’ve saved locally on your device. You can use iCloud, or back up your iPhone’s information to your computer. Apple wrote a dandy article all about that.

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Six Signs of a Phishing Email

How Do You Spot a Fake Email?

(excerpted from an article at eero.com)

Phishing – a fraudulent attempt to obtain your sensitive information by disguising oneself as trustworthy – continues to be one of the most prevalent ways for hackers to gain access to your accounts and compromise your identity.

At the end of 2019, over 86,000 phishing websites were discovered per month. Here are six common signs you are reading a phishing email. Here is an example:

1. Sense of Urgency

While phishers are not limited in who they try to imitate, they often try to copy financial institutions, cloud logins (Apple, Microsoft, Google), or disaster relief organizations. Their goal is an obvious one – to get you to take action on the email. To do so, they inspire a sense of urgency by telling you your funds are at risk, your account is being closed, or some other impending negative action.

2. Suspicious Sender Address

Email applications can only go so far to protect you from phishing. Scammers will often buy a domain name similar to the one they are trying to spoof. In the above example, the fisher is trying to imitate acmebank.com. They opted to use acrnebank.com hoping that your eye would be tricked by using “rn” instead of “m”.

3. Generic Greeting

In an era where marketing is personalized, it is less common to receive an email with a generic salutation. Most trusted institutions will address you by name, especially when an action is required.

4. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

Spelling and grammar mistakes are a telltale sign of a phishing attempt. Reputable companies proofread communications before publishing. Run-on sentences, misspelled words, and odd phrases are all signs that the email is not legitimate.

5. Link to Invalid Domain

The aim of a phishing attempt is to collect sensitive information. A common way scammers do this is by redirecting you to a fake online form. The link title and where the link takes you will often be different. It is simple to make a link “look” legitimate.

6. Suspicious Attachments

A more nefarious tactic is to attach infected files that allow attackers to gain a foothold into the system. Instead of simply gaining access to one account, the phisher now has to access to the entire computer. They can use their access to target your contacts from your email address. Common file types used include .pdf, .doc/.docx, and .exe files. However, attack techniques are always evolving.

How you can defeat phishing

  • Notice how you felt when you initially read the questionable email. If something felt off, then it probably is.
  • You can always go to the targeted site manually, i.e. go to your browser and type in www.acmebank.com, and do not click on a link embedded in the email.
  • Reach out to a professional or technical friend to get a second opinion if the email seems wrong.

Phishers use a combination of social engineering tools to trick you into doing what they want, and many of them are very good at it. Moreover, many of them target retirement-age individuals, who tend to trust what they read more than younger people do.

If you receive an email that looks suspicious, contact us and we’ll happy to take a look at it for you. We are here to help!

ProtonVPN – a VPN for the Rest of Us

ProtonVPN

Proton Technologies AG, the Swiss company that originally brought us the very secure ProtonMail, has recently released a VPN client, ProtonVPN. What is remarkable about this offering is that their most basic plan is free! Not just a free trial, but actually free.

 

What is a VPN and why do I need it?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it is a way of making sure that communications with your devices are secure and are not intercept-able. When you are at home, you can be reasonably sure that your connection to the Internet is secure. But if you are outside your home, for instance at a coffee shop or a library or a hotel, your chances of someone trying to co-opt your data are very high. Using a VPN minimizes this risk. Having a VPN service available should be part of everyone’s data security plan.

There are a large number of commercial VPN clients available for both Mac and iOS on the market, including familiar names like NordVPN, HideMyAss, and ExpressVPN. Most of these services offer a free trial. But ProtonVPN is the only one we’ve found so far that offers an actual free service. Their for-pay accounts offer simultaneous VPN connections, more connection points around the globe, and higher speeds.

Their most basic plan does have some restrictions (like only 1 simultaneous VPN connection per account) but for most people, that is a workable solution. If you have not yet landed on a VPN service for both your Mac and iOS devices, your time has come – this solution is a no-brainer. Their Mac and iOS clients are elegant and very pleasant to use. They offer the ability to save profiles, such as US-FastestService or Germany-MostSecure, and much more, to provide easy, one-click access as you need it.

You can sign up for all of their accounts at prontvpn.com. You can also use these links to download their Mac client and iOS client.

Wait, it’s all too much; I need some help!

Yes, that’s why we’re here. Contact Us and we can set it all up on both your Mac and your iOS devices for you!

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