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- From the Tech Desk
Indie Groundbreaking Book
Hack-Proof Your Life Now
New Book Provides a Comprehensive Guide to Personal Cybersecurity
Do you take caution when using public Wi-Fi networks? Do you have two-factor authentication set up for your email or other online accounts? Are your vigilant about backing up all of your files on a regular basis? Do you know how to protect your home Wi-Fi network so that hackers can’t access and use it for nefarious means?
If you answered “no” to one or more of the above questions, then your personal cybersecurity could be in serious jeopardy. Those questions and several others are queries that authors Sean M. Bailey and Devin Kropp pose near the beginning of their new book, Hack-Proof Your Life Now. The book provides a detailed step-by-step process that anyone can use to improve their cybersecurity and protect themselves, their financial accounts, their personal information, their files, and their peace of mind from hackers. It’s also this month’s Indie Groundbreaking Book.
As someone who makes a living on the internet, I generally consider myself fairly “streetwise” when it comes to cybersecurity threats. I know how to recognize phishing scams that come to my email account, I back up my personal files regularly, and I’ve been schooled in the dangers of public Wi-Fi. The basic concept behind Hack-Proof Your Life, though, is that virtually everyone has blind spots when it comes to personal cybersecurity. The book begins with an anecdote about an employee at a cybersecurity company who fell for a phishing scam and ultimately lost two months of data to a ransomware attack. The message? Anyone—even professional cybersecurity experts or so-called “streetwise” internet users—can be vulnerable to online threats.
Hack-Proof Your Life is certainly not the first resource written to help users be smarter and more vigilant about their technology habits. There are countless books, online videos, and blog posts out there that cover similar subject matter. Heck, I’ve even written some of those blog posts as part of my day-to-day freelancing work. It’s impossible for anyone to completely reinvent the wheel on this topic, and Hack-Proof Your Life does share some of the common advice you’ve probably seen if you’ve ever read any of those books or blog posts. For instance, every cybersecurity expert is going to tell you that using the same password on every site is a bad idea, or that backing up your files (preferably in multiple locations) is a must.
However, there are also tidbits and tips provided in this book that I’d never thought of before. One example—and one of the first things that Bailey and Kropp talk about—is the “secret email account.” For most of us, one of the biggest flaws of our online security is the widespread visibility of our email addresses. We use our email addresses to create accounts for countless sites and services, and even display them freely on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media networks. Pair this tendency with the amount of personal details many of us put out into the world—whether via social media or on blogs and forums—and we’ve created an environment where hackers can easily use “Forgot Your Password” systems and easy-to-answer security questions to gain access to our email accounts. Since your personal email is the hub of everything you do online, hackers that can crack your email can crack anything—including your bank account or your credit cards. Bailey and Kropp recommend using a secret email account in addition to your existing account, solely to manage your online finances.
That’s not the only tip from Hack-Proof Your Life that was brand new to me. Every “improve your cybersecurity” resource tells you to use more complex passwords, but Bailey and Kropp provide the most helpful advice I’ve seen so far for how you can actually go about doing it. I won’t give their method away here, but it helps create passwords that are memorable and meaningful to you while also being nearly impossible to guess. As for home Wi-Fi security, this book identifies a common wireless router weakness that I had never even heard of before.
Throughout, Bailey and Kropp ensure accessibility by writing in layman’s terms and structuring their book for maximum impact. Every chapter starts with an anecdote about a hack and then provides a core tip that readers can use to avoid becoming victims of that type of threat. Along the way, the book provides specific details about different programs, sites, and web browsers, so that readers can draw practical advice from each chapter regardless of which services they use on a daily basis. It’s a testament to the instructive nature of writing and the quality of the tips that Hack-Proof Your Life inspired me to immediately start implementing two-factor authentication, changing my passwords around the web, and taking other steps to shore up my online defenses.
Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for IndependentPublisher.com, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at email@example.com.