Do you know what a prepper is? Preppers are people who are actively preparing for emergencies, and when I say emergency, I mean these guys are psyching themselves up for the big one. Armageddon. World War III. Alien invasion. The zombie apocalypse.
Preppers are the extreme, sure, but when the end is nigh do you know what they’ll be saying when they’re safe and secure in their underground bunkers? “Those poor suckers with their normalcy bias”. That’s right, they’ve even coined a term for it – Normalcy bias. The mental state of those who, when faced with disaster, believe that everything will tick along as it always has.
We’re probably all a touch guilty of suffering from ‘normalcy bias’, not least when it comes to our online security. We hear stories about hacking, phishing and online scams, but bury our heads in the sand, thinking it’ll never happen to us, that we’ll be fine. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but with one in ten UK adults falling victim to cybercrime in the past year, chances are it could very easily happen to you. But all it not lost; here are few simple ways to ensure you don’t get caught up in the apocalypse:
Email and telephone scams
The general rule of thumb is that if you suspect an email or telephone call is dodgy, it very probably is. Don’t open anything or give your personal details to someone that you suspect might not be who they say they are. Quite often the scammers will target the person rather than the device. That HMRC email promising a big fat tax rebate is likely to be a way of getting you to click on a link that certainly won’t take you to a friendly tax man.
If you don’t have it, get it, and if you do have it then keep it updated. Also make sure all your devices are protected. Laptops, phones, tablets and servers all need protection.
Two things to remember here. Keep them complex, but not impossible to remember and make them over 8 characters. It takes 10 minutes to crack a lowercase password that is 6 characters long. Add two extra letters and a few uppercase letters and that number jumps to 3 years. Add just one more character and some numbers or symbols and it will take 44,530 years to crack.
Yeah, we know they’re annoying, but the software updates to your Apple, Android or Windows products are there to fix any problems and help prevent hacking. Keep current, keep safe.
Websites that are https are safe websites (the ‘S’ stands for secure). These sites offer better protection against hackers. Sites that are still ‘http’ are not as safe and a lot of security software will now mark them as ‘Not Secure’, so be aware when you’re online of the risk and stick to the legit sites.
So there you have it, a few ways to make sure you’re prepped against the worst without having to stock pile tins of Spam and buy yourself a Hazzmat suit. Stay safe, avoid the scams and then you can embrace normalcy!
This article was written for UBC.