Not many people bring to light and discuss that there is a difference between paranoia and preparedness in cybersecurity. Due to many breaches and the various headlines we tend to promote 24/7 security awareness, although it is a simple understanding that scammers are everywhere and target everyone, this can cause paranoia.
Prepare for security threats without paranoia:
Paranoia: Never using a public WiFi network.
Preparedness: Always using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
VPNs encrypt your internet connection making it difficult for cybercriminals to intercept and steal your data. Never connect to public WiFi without a VPN, and even then, avoid accessing highly sensitive information.
Paranoia: Refusing to install apps on your smart device.
Preparedness: Researching and downloading apps from trusted sources.
Malicious apps are an ongoing security issue with app stores. Do your research before installing anything and carefully review permissions and security settings after installing. Routinely uninstall apps you no longer use.
Paranoia: Never sharing any photos or updates on social media.
Preparedness: Using the security settings on your social media accounts.
As a general rule, it’s best to set your social media accounts to fully private and ensure that your friends and followers are people you know and trust. It’s also smart to occasionally audit your list of friends and remove anyone you rarely connect with in real life.
Paranoia: Frequently updating every single password.
Preparedness: Utilizing multi-factor authentication (MFA).
MFA adds an additional layer of security by requiring a second code to unlock an account. This way, if a major data breach leaks your login credentials, it will still be difficult for an unauthorized person to gain access.
Is covering a webcam paranoia or preparedness?
It’s a little bit of both. We know for a fact that cybercriminals can hack webcams. So, it’s not a terrible idea to cover them. But truthfully, it’s not the webcam that gets hacked, it’s the human. In most cases, the victim clicked on something they shouldn’t have, which gave the attacker access to the victim’s camera (and microphone and likely the entire computer). Unless you’re a high-profile individual–such as a celebrity or government official–it’s unlikely you’ll be targeted (at least when you’re in the comfort of your own home).
So don’t be paranoid. Instead, be proactive! Think before you click. Keep your apps and devices up to date. Install antivirus software on every device. And if you choose to cover your webcam, don’t use tape. Buy a cover that fits your device and won’t leave a sticky residue.