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.

September 2020

Update your privacy settings on the desktop version of Spotify

For many users, the social experience is part of why they choose to stream music on Spotify. Others want to lock down their privacy settings and use parental controls to limit their children’s exposure to explicit lyrics. From the Spotify desktop app, navigate to the Account menu by clicking the downward-facing arrow next to your name and user icon. You can control whether your playlists, listening activity and recently played artists are public, as well as disabling content with explicit lyrics.


Leave suspicious Facebook Messenger groups

Every once in a while, you may receive a suspicious message from an unfamiliar user, a distant acquaintance or a close friend whose account has been hijacked. You may be part of a large group they’ve opened, and you might be wary of the preview text. Don’t open it. To keep yourself from accidentally clicking it later, hold down on the message and select “Leave the group.”


Update access for Dropbox files from the mobile app

Sharing files over Dropbox is easy and convenient. If you need to revoke access to select files from certain users after their duties have changed, navigate to that file from the mobile app. Then, select the vertical ellipsis to its right and click “Manage access.” You can update the permissions from there.


Link to comments in Google Docs for clearer communication and data retention

Opened and resolved comments in Google Docs can be linked for enhanced collaboration and user transparency. By clearly communicating with other users, you lessen the risk of improper deletion or data sharing. If you want to direct other users on a shared document to a specific comment, select the vertical ellipsis next to the comment, then click “Link to this comment… .” For resolved comments, clicking the downward-facing arrow next to Re-open will bring you to the link option.


Manage your Android storage space with Google Files

If your phone is being slowed down by unnecessary junk and duplicate (or malicious) files, there are some simple software solutions you can use to help you clean things up as they accumulate. If you don’t already have it on your Android device, you can download Google Files from the Play Store. Once it’s up and running, Files will automatically suggest you remove duplicates and backed-up data, delete junk files and perform other space-saving tips.


Use a surge protector to prevent data loss

Overloading electrical sockets can lead to surges that result in damage to personal computers and even data loss. It’s important to regularly back up important data. To prevent damage to local machines, use a surge protector for any desktop configuration that requires power for multiple devices.


Before connecting a new computer to the Internet install antivirus software

Installing an antivirus software program and keeping it up-to-date is a critical step in protecting your computer. Many types of antivirus software can detect the presence of malware by searching for patterns in your computer’s files or memory. Antivirus software uses signatures provided by software vendors to identify malware. Vendors frequently create new signatures to ensure their software is effective against newly discovered malware. Many antivirus programs offer automatic updating. If your program has automatic updates, enable them so your software always has the most current signatures. If automatic updates aren’t offered, be sure to install the software from a reputable source, such as the vendor’s website.


Monitor version history on Google Docs to discover updates and changes

The ability to accurately monitor version history and alterations is essential for data integrity and can be very useful for collaboration. Version history visibility is built into Google Docs. Select File, then click “Version history” and “See version history.” You’ll be able to monitor all changes to the document from named users and see if someone has improperly accessed your account.


Send an email later in Gmail

It might not be the right time to send an email, but it’s definitely the right time for you to write it. Fortunately, scheduling a send is easy in Gmail. After you compose your message, select the downward-facing arrow next to the Send button. Then select “Schedule Send.” You’ll be given a list of suggested times, or you can enter your own.


Use caution with links and when entering website addresses

Be careful when clicking directly on links in emails, even if the sender appears to be someone you know. Attempt to independently verify website addresses (e.g., contact your organization’s helpdesk, search the internet for the sender organization’s website or the topic mentioned in the email). Pay attention to the website addresses you click on, as well as those you enter yourself. Malicious website addresses often appear almost identical to legitimate sites, often using a slight variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com instead of .net).


Coil your cables properly

Not everything can be wireless, and for every device that has to be connected, there’s a cable that needs to be properly coiled for storage. Otherwise, you risk damaging these cords and suffering possible data loss. To coil cables the right way, feel for where the cord naturally bends at uniform intervals, and spool it appropriately.


Disable notifications from websites on Chrome

Distracting notifications can be intrusive and share too much information to people who have a clear view of your screen, whether in person or remotely. To turn off website notifications in Chrome, navigate to the Settings menu. Select “Privacy and security” from the left bar, then click Site Settings. Navigate to Notifications. Here, you can update the permissions for every site.


Change your default search settings on the mobile version of Firefox

You probably know by now that certain apps track your data and usage patterns while other service providers make your privacy the priority. To update your default search settings on the mobile version of Firefox, select Settings, then Search, and click one of the options there. DuckDuckGo is a popular option for many users because of its privacy protections. If you have another favorite, navigate to it from the Firefox browser, click its search bar, and hold down. You can then add it to the list of search engine default options.


Know and manage your friends on social

Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know and trust) up to date with your daily life.


Enable Do Not Disturb mode for Android

Limit distractions, message previews, calls and push notifications – including SMS phishing texts – by enabling Do Not Disturb mode on your Android device. Simply navigate to the Settings menu, and select Sound. Then click “Do Not Disturb.” Enable the settings that suit you best, and turn on Do Not Disturb mode now, or schedule it for a certain time of day.


Enable a built-in privacy screen for the latest HP computers

Several HP laptops come with a built-in privacy screen to help limit the visibility of your display from people on either side of you. Known as HP Sure View, there are a couple different ways to turn this setting on, depending on the model of your computer. For most models, you simply need to press the F2 key. For others, you need to press and hold FN and F2.


Once posted online, always posted

Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70 percent of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.


Know your options for remotely wiping a mobile device

Having your mobile device lost or stolen is never fun. You lose an essential instrument while also potentially putting your data in jeopardy, too. Services like Find My iPhone and software like Total Defense Mobile Security provide some remedy, since they allow you to remotely wipe the device, erasing all of its contents and settings so that no one else has access to them.


Delete unknown cookies that have built up in Firefox

It’s a good idea to periodically review and remove cookies, especially those that you’ve acquired from unknown sources. To do this on Firefox, click the hamburger menu and select Options. From there, click the Manage Data button. You can search for cookies from specific websites or review all of them and delete what you want. Once you’re done, make sure to click “Save Changes” and “OK.”


Lookout for malicious email

A malicious email can look just like it comes from a financial institution, an e-commerce site, a government agency or any other service or business. It often urges you to act quickly, because your account has been compromised, your order cannot be fulfilled or there is another urgent matter to address. If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it with these steps: Contact the company directly – using information provided on an account statement, on the company’s official website or on the back of a credit card. Search for the company online – but not with information provided in the email.


Report spam

Spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail. The term refers to unsolicited, bulk – and often unwanted – email. Most email clients offer ways to mark an email as spam or report instances of spam. Reporting spam will also help to prevent the messages from being directly delivered to your inbox.


Change your sharing settings for a folder in Google Drive

It’s considered a best practice in the world of cybersecurity to limit access only to people who need it. To reduce your sharing settings for a folder in Google Drive, right-click the folder and select “Share.” Add people or groups who need access and remove those who don’t. If you use Drive as part of a companywide account, you can alter permissions for everybody in the organization with link access, too.


Blur your background for all Skype calls on Windows, macOS or Linux

If you’re worried about potentially sharing personal information from your environment during your next Skype call, consider blurring the background. To do this for all calls, click on your profile picture, and navigate to the audio and video settings. You can select “Blur” under the section that reads “Choose background effect.”


Firewalls do not guarantee that your computer will not be attacked

Though properly configured firewalls may effectively block some attacks, do not be lulled into a false sense of security. Firewalls primarily help protect against malicious traffic, not against malicious programs (i.e., malware), and may not protect you if you accidentally install or run malware on your computer. However, using a firewall in conjunction with other protective measures (e.g., antivirus software such as Total Defense and safe computing practices) will strengthen your resistance to attacks.


Unique account, unique passphrase

Having separate passphrases/passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passphrases.


Delete your Google Maps data using your mobile device

Google recently announced that it will delete users’ location data automatically after a year and a half. However, if you’d like to remove your data more regularly, you can do so. With the app open on your mobile device, click your user icon. Then, select “Your data in Maps.” Under Location History, you can turn off this feature, or you can further modify it by selecting “See & delete activity.”


Ditch public USB charging and pack your own supply instead

When you plug your cellphone into public USB charging ports, you could be exposing your device to malware planted there by malicious actors. When you’re traveling, plan ahead and charge a couple of your own secure power banks so you won’t be tempted to tap into potentially hazardous public ports.


When traveling never leave devices unattended

It is important to remember that laptops, phones and tablets should never be left unattended. Ensure your devices are with you at all times. If you are staying in a hotel, the best thing to do is lock them in a safe. If a safe is not available, lock them in your luggage. And, while family fun is the goal, a recent study indicates that 92 percent of respondents admit to doing some work on dedicated leisure vacations. If you visit the hotel’s business center, avoid using public equipment – such as phones, computers and fax machines – for sensitive communication.


Obscure personal information when sending messages over Signal

If you share pictures with other users through a messenger service, you should be careful to not display unwanted personal information or the identifying features or people who did not consent to the exchange. On Signal, you can easily blur these details. With the image open and attached to the message, before sending, simply click the cross icon. Draw on the image to blur specific parts of it, or toggle the switch to automatically blur faces.