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 2022

Remember phone scams? They still exist

While much of the dangers to your personal information comes through modes of modern tech, the classic phone scams are still popular amongst identity thieves and scammers. Be wary about giving out your personal information over the phone. Many businesses do legitimately use conventional phone calls to contact customers, but so do scammers. That said, authentic businesses almost never request personal information over the phone during an unprompted call. Always verify who’s calling by testing them on who they are and how they know you before engaging.


Look out for fake antivirus solutions

Antivirus software is a valuable tool if it’s from a legitimate vendor. There are a lot of fake AV solutions out there that assertively try to get you to install them so that they can collect your information. Only purchase Antivirus software from trusted vendors like Total Defense.


Use QR codes with care

QR codes are useful for finding more information on something, plus many stores use them for checkout. When you scan them yourself, be wary of any code that doesn’t provide any context on what it will link to. Many will send you to a web page when scanned by your device’s camera, so there’s some potential risk involved.


Review third-party apps with access to your social media

If you’ve ever signed into a website or another app with your Facebook account, then you’ve given a third-party access to some information from your profile. Not every third party can be trusted; always review the authorizations you’ve granted and cancel any that you’re uncertain about.


Use Facebook Messenger settings to protect your details

Facebook Messenger is a massively popular instant messenger platform, used by millions of people and with loads of great extra features. It’s also used by some for more nefarious purposes, though, so keeping your information safe is important. There are a handful of adjustments you can make to your privacy settings to protect yourself while using Facebook Messenger:

  • Set your stories to only be visible to your friends.
  • Don’t sync your contacts so you can choose who to add individually.
  • Remove your phone number from your profile.
  • Restrict who appears in your chat list and message request folder.

Look for multi-device online security solutions

Most days you are using multiple computing devices throughout the day to access the internet. No matter which ones you use, be sure you’re running security software that works across all of them. Leading options like Total Defense Ultimate Internet Security can be installed on as many as 10 different devices.


Avoid duplicating apps on your devices

So much information about our lives is stored in our devices that it can be easy to lose track of it all sometimes. This is especially true if you begin doubling up on apps that essentially do the same thing. If, for example, your phone already has a calendar app installed but you prefer Google Calendar, remove or disable the default calendar app, setting Google Calendar as your default instead. This way you won’t have to worry about information being in too many places at once.


Block as much as you need on social media

Social networks are full of scams meant to collect your personal data by sending you to risky websites or seeking sensitive information. You should block any account you think might be trying to scam you – that way, you won’t see any of its posts.


Update your new phone before logging in to accounts

When you buy a new phone, your immediate inclination is to get everything downloaded, installed and signed in as soon as possible. Hold on a moment, though. That phone could have been sitting in its box for several months, during which time the operating system hasn’t been receiving the latest updates. Before doing anything else, check for OS updates and install them to ensure you have the best level of security right from the start. This is especially important if you’ve bought a second-hand or refurbished phone.


Set push notifications to show less information

Push notifications show up on your phone whenever you receive a message, email or alert from a service or app you have installed. While the majority of them are innocuous, these could potentially give anyone sneaking a peek at your phone insight into your private life or personal information. In your phone settings, you can adjust push notifications so they show less information, or you can turn them off altogether. You can choose to have different settings for different apps, so be selective and customize your notifications to suit your preferences.


Take care filling out online forms

Filling out online forms – like for shipping or payment info – is not only time-consuming, it may be risky. Inputting information over a non-secure (non-HTTPS) connection or on public Wi-Fi or a shared device can expose your private information. Lessen your risk by only using safe connections on devices you own. Payment options like PayPal also let you avoid re-entering the same info many times.


Protect your contactless payments with an RFID-proof wallet

Contactless technology is fantastic, it allows us to pay for small transactions quickly and easily without the trouble of punching in a PIN. But it also leaves you vulnerable to having your account infiltrated by anyone with an RFID reader and the right nefarious software. To protect your cards from unwanted transactions and fraud, purchase a wallet with RFID protection built in.


Keep your out of office auto-reply vague

Setting up an out of office auto-reply for your email is pretty common practice, especially for work. But be mindful of how much you divulge when you write it. Saying that you’re leaving the country and for how long advertises that your home will be empty. Keep it simple and vague, saying that you’re currently not available and will reply when you return. Some employers have a set format or template they like you to follow but feel confident to question it if you think it’s giving away too much information.


Don’t ever open unsolicited email attachments

Email attachments are risky. They might contain malware, or be so large that they eat up too much space in your inbox. The best approach is to not open them and delete them, unless they come from a trusted sender. Encourage your contacts to share via cloud links instead.


Store your crypto key securely

Cryptocurrencies are largely accessed using a private digital key that cannot be reset if you forget it. Unlike most passwords for online accounts, these aren’t stored anywhere, which presents the risk of permanently losing access to your account if you don’t have your credentials properly stored. Before making any significant cryptocurrency purchases, be sure you’re set up with a secure way to store and protect access to your account.


Consider using mobile payment options instead of credit cards

Lots of smartphones now include NFC chips that allow them to be tapped at point-of-sale terminals. Payment options like Apple Pay are both convenient and highly secure, since they don’t transmit your actual card number to a merchant, only a unique identifier associated with your device.


Turn off Quick Add in Snapchat

The Quick Add feature in Snapchat allows friends of friends to find and add each other more easily in the app. While this is convenient for genuine connections, it can also be used by bad actors if they hijack an account. Turning off Quick Add will prevent anyone finding your account via your friends. It also stops anyone in your friend list or address book from being able to find your other contacts. You can turn off Quick Add in the main Settings of the app.


Use a few personal email accounts

It’s a good idea to have a distinct email account just for mailing lists. That way, you lower the risk of getting offers in your inbox that are actually attempts at phishing. Keep one account just for emailing trusted friends, family members and contacts, and another for everything else.


Implement a “clean desk, clear screen” policy for employees

A clean desk policy involves removing any sensitive business information from your desk everyday. This can include USB sticks, notebooks, business cards and printed documents. Inadvertently leaving them out is an invitation to data theft, which could result in a serious breach of your business’ network. Add a ‘clear screen’ policy, so employees are required to log off from or lock their computer every time they’re away from their desk.


Be careful with AirDrop sharing on iOS and macOS devices

Apple’s AirDrop is a convenient way to transfer files between iOS (iPhone) and/or macOS (MacBook) devices that are near to one another. It doesn’t even require an internet connection or any cables. However, it can also leave your devices open to spam. Limit sharing permissions to Contacts Only or Receiving Off to remove this risk.


Only do business with trustworthy online sellers

Before providing any personal or financial information, make sure that you are interacting with a reputable, established vendor. Some attackers may try to trick you by creating malicious websites that appear to be legitimate, so you should verify the legitimacy before supplying any information. Attackers may obtain a site certificate for a malicious website to appear more authentic, so review the certificate information, particularly the “issued to” information. Locate and note phone numbers and physical addresses of vendors in case there is a problem with your transaction or your bill.


Stay alert for smishing

Despite SMS being a somewhat outdated medium, “smishing” (SMS phishing) presents a real risk to your personal information and online security. It’s a perfect method for scammers because the limitations of simple text characters and links makes it easy to hide their true intentions. As texts are often received and read on smartphones, scammers can take advantage of additional connection capabilities and funnel victims onto the internet with greater ease. Be wary of texts with links, especially any alerting you to account breaches or urging you to click a link due to an emergency.


For better performance – defragment your PC hard drive

PCs with spinning hard drives will take longer to start up and access files and applications if they are fragmented. Luckily, you can use either the built-in defragmentation tools in the operating system, or a more comprehensive like our PC tune-up solution, to organize data into fewer contiguous regions.


Don’t assume you’re safe

It can be easy to shrug off the danger of cyberattack as something that won’t happen to you because you’re just a regular person with a normal life. But if your information ends up in the wrong hands, hackers don’t care. One of the most dangerous threats to cybersecurity is complacency. Be sure to proactively try and prevent your data and information being compromised so you won’t have to try to fix it should the worst happen.


Regularly clear your browser history and cookies

Almost everything you do on the internet is recorded by your browser. Every site you visit, all the information you enter in online forms and cookies (small files downloaded onto your computer when you visit a website) all begin to build up. This could potentially provide someone with all the data they need to access your accounts or find your home address. Regularly deleting your browsing history is a good way to keep this risk to a minimum. In almost all web browsers, hitting Ctrl+Shift+Del opens a new tab where you can clear your browsing data. You’ll be presented with a series of options so you can tailor how much you want to delete.