Set the strongest possible access control and authentication

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) and as we lead up to a month focused on how to protect ourselves online at work, the next few weeks let’s focus on how to protect you at home. I hope this several week series will spur thinking and discussion about how to protect your personal digital assets.

Set the strongest possible access control and authentication for your priority accounts

For the priority accounts you identified in last week’s tip, go through one by one and elevate your security and privacy settings. This means setting stronger passwords, changing your security questions, moving to higher levels of authentication where available, and higher privacy settings. You’ll also want to change your passwords more frequently for these accounts.

According to Apple blogger, Jonny Evans, when changing your security questions, “the answers just need to be memorable, not accurate”. This will help to prevent incidents like the recent iCloud attack where the responses to the security challenge questions were easily guessed as one component of the overall attack method.

Where available, you should also set two factor authentication (2FA) for applications such as online banking, iCloud and so on. 2FA involves “something you know” (the first factor) and “something you have” (the second factor). The “something you have” is often a verification code that’s sent to your smartphone via SMS. Many new smartphones also offer biometric authentication which is even better since it relies on “something you are” - your unique biometric such as a fingerprint.