It doesn’t matter how much or how little you know – as long as you are more technically competent than the rest of your family you’ve got a job for life.
You’ll help their laptops find printers, dig out files that have disappeared inexplicably, tell them why the internet doesn’t work (“…it was working yesterday!”), and clean up viruses.
And that, in our modern and interconnected world, makes you part of the cyber security front line.
Every so often, we like to go back to basics and review the simple but important things that all of us who act as our family’s unofficial technical support and cyber-defence team can do to make things harder for the bad guys. So here goes:
1. Check computers for zombies and other malware
Most people seem to be using anti-virus software these days but the software is only as good as its most recent update.
If your family members have subscriptions that have expired, if they haven’t done a baseline check lately, or if they’re Mac, tablet or smartphone users and think they aren’t vulnerable, get them a reputable product, bring it up to date and do a check for zombies and other malware today.
2. Enable WPA or WPA2 on home WiFi
If anyone in your family is using unsecured home WiFi or has secured their WiFi with WEP encryption, take two minutes to switch them to WPA or WPA2 today.
If you think you have already set up WPA for them, go and check they haven’t done a factory reset or anything that might have undone your work.
But, before that, watch our video Busting Wireless Security Myths so you can see if anyone is engaged in any WiFi security that’s, well, mythical.
3. Set different passwords for every website
Make sure your family members are using different, strong, passwords for each website they log into. Thieves will often try stolen passwords on a range of popular websites because they know that people reuse them.
Help your family choose strong passwords that are at least twelve characters long and made up of a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters. If they have trouble remembering passwords then consider a password manager like LastPass or KeePass.
Of course, security doesn’t end with our three essentials, so let’s finish with a fourth…