Total Defense

Security & Safety Resource Center

Learn about today's current internet threats and how to stay safe and secure.

Security Tip of the Day

Daily tips to create awareness of cyber threats and empower Total Defense users to be safer and more secure online.

August 2020

Know your e-waste laws and pickup centers

Disposing of electronics is a tricky business. Tossing old monitors, PCs, cellphones and other devices straight into the dumpster is not only dangerous, but in many jurisdictions, it also carries a fine. Research the laws in your area to find out what you can and can’t throw away. Even if trashing e-waste is permitted in your area, it’s still a better choice to drop it off at a reputable e-waste recycling center, like your local electronics retailer.


What is social engineering?

Cybercriminals perform social engineering techniques such as phishing, baiting and spear phishing to manipulate their targets into disclosing personal information. Social engineering relies on human interaction to get access to the confidential information they need to commit cybercrimes. An attacker may seem unassuming and respectable, possibly claiming to be a new employee, repair person, or researcher and even offering credentials to support that identity in order to extract private information.


Consider opening an additional email to reduce spam

Many domains offer free email accounts. If you frequently submit your email address (for online shopping, signing up for services, or including it on something like a comment card), you may want to have a secondary email account to protect your primary email account from any spam that could be generated. You could also use this secondary account when posting to public mailing lists, social networking sites, blogs, and web forums. If the account start to fill up with spam, you can get rid of it and open a different one.


Securely wipe your hard drive before donating or recycling an old PC

Always make sure to perform a factory reset before you dispose of used personal electronics. For added security, you should securely erase hard drives, too. This may be required by your employer’s tech policy, so make sure to work closely with the IT department to meet their security protocol. For many uses, free and open-source options like Darik’s Boot and Nuke (DBAN) may be sufficient.


Be wary of phony social media profiles on Facebook

Ever received a friend or follow request from somebody you don’t know who didn’t seem to have a lot of information on their profile? Have you come across profiles that were created recently and only seem interested in promoting a specific political agenda? These could be signs of fake social media accounts. They may be pushing disinformation, attempting to gain personal information of yours or advancing other scams and cybersecurity threats. Keep your guard up and report suspicious accounts.


Keep your software up to date

New vulnerabilities are continually emerging, but the best defense against attackers exploiting patched vulnerabilities is simple: keep your software up to date. You should enable software updates whenever possible. This is the most effective measure you can take to protect your computer, phone, and other digital devices. Try our Ultimate software it’s built-in vulnerability module will update software automatically.


Use messaging services that offer end-to-end encryption

End-to-end encryption helps you protect your messages and conversations from being monitored and reviewed by unauthorized parties. Apple’s iMessage chat provides end-to-end encryption between iMessage users, and there are a variety of third-party messaging apps that can exchange encrypted over-the-top (OTT) messages between users on the same app. Popular options include WhatsApp and Signal, and many messaging clients can also be used as your default app for less secure SMS messaging.