Tools for Protecting Yourself from the Cyber Grinch


The following is a list of some of the tools that should be in your “mobile grinch protection kit”. You can find most of these at your favorite shopping site, electronic stores, and online search engines. We are hoping to provide some of these items in the Barnard Store in the coming months.

 

  • Webcam Covers: There are many options to cover the webcam when you are not using it - including simple things like bandaids, electrical tape and an honored favorite - trimmed down post-it style notes. There are also many specialty reusable versions available for purchase to help you personalize your device. Just be careful about how the cover will impact your device use - some can be too think when closing newer tablets and laptops and can damage the screen.
  • USB Data Blocker: These are small devices or cables that block data from moving to or from your device and what it is plugged into. If using the small device, it attaches to the USB end of charging cable that plugs into the wall socket or charging station. These normally cost between $7 - $10 per device/cable. These are great for anyone who plugs there devices in anywhere they can.
  • Battery backup: Depending on your needs you can get rechargeable battery supplies that can quickly charge a phone or provide enough charge to power a tablet.
  • Encrypted USB Drives: Look for devices with at least 256 bit encryption and encryption is hardware based so that the device can be used accessed anywhere without special software installed. There are many choices with a variety of storage capacities from 4 GB to more than 4TB. You should provide as much storage capacity as available directly on your device or in your online storage locations.
  • RFID pouch: When in crowds or busy streets, it is possible for the cyber grinch to grab data broadcast from chips in our credit cards, passports, badges and phones. Placing your sensitive items into a RFID lined pocket or pouch in a purse or backpack is a great option. Many travel accessories are now including these pockets and pouches.
  • VPN or mobile hotspot capability: A virtual private network (VPN) is one of the smartest ways to protect your privacy online and maintain your data security because it provides an encrypted tunnel for your communications and helps protect your online traffic from the prying eyes of the cyber grinch. There are many choices to check them out to see which one is best for your needs.
    You may also consider having your own mobile hotspot. Many smart phone plans now offer this service and it is more secure than any public wi-fi. But caution is still needed. Be sure not to disable the mobile hotspot’s wi-fi password or make the password easy to guess; if disabled, anyone could connect to the hotspot without your knowledge or permission and potentially access any data being transmitted. Also check out your plan, because any data used by a connected device will likely be deducted from the total amount of data you’ve selected in your plan.
  • Password Manager Services: There are a variety of good choices for this today. It is best to choice a service that provide a master password and emergency recovery kit. Storing lists of passwords in your email or on your device is convenient for you but also for the cyber grinch or anyone else with access to your email or device. You can typically get a free trial in order to experiment with the service you like best and personal and family subscriptions for a few dollars per month. 1Password and LastPass are the most common.
  • Online Backup Services: You already have a “free” cloud backup solution through Barnard and Google Drive. There are many others available that range from free for limited online storage to monthly subscription fees depending on your storage and recovery needs. You should look for a service that provides encrypted storage and access controls so you have control over who can see and use your data.
  • NYC Secure mobile app: This mobile app is available through Apple and Google app stores and was released by NYC in October this year. It is a great way to be notified of vulnerable settings and connections on your mobile device. You can read about the app at the City of New York's web sitehttps://secure.nyc/. Currently this app collects minimal application about your device and does not track your device. But, like any mobile app or website, you should read the terms of use so you feel comfortable with what information it is collecting and how it is being used.
  • Anti-malware services: There are many ways to deliver malware to our devices including email attachments and website links. There has also been a steady increase of malicious ads using your system without your knowledge or consent for a variety of activities, including virtual currency mining. Eventually we will all fall victim to clicking or opening something we shouldn’t. Malwarebytes is one anti-malware service available for free, personal use on nearly all platforms and works to address the variety of delivery methods.

 

Here is a photo of the Mobile Protection Kit within BCIT-InfoSec. It includes many of the devices included above.

If you want to get more information or discuss specific options, please send an email to bcit-infosec@barnard.edu. We can share more information or schedule some time to chat.