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Reimagine Everything Tech Dialogues: Five Cybersecurity Tips You Should Know

By June 21, 2024July 3rd, 2024No Comments

Ryan Kawamoto

A decade ago, having a password like “m0chi_l0ver” using zeroes for o’s might have been sufficient in keeping your online accounts secure and being a nice memorable tribute to your ongoing addiction to mochi. However, protecting your accounts these days might require a few further steps. Here are five cybersecurity tips that you can easily apply today without paying a penny.

1) Use 2-Factor Authentication (2FA)

There are three possible factors of authentication:

Something you know: This includes authentications like passwords, PINs, secret questions and answers, etc.

Something you have: A physical item you possess, like a key, a smart card, a security token, etc.

Something you are: This involves your biometrics like fingerprint, facial recognition, voice, etc.

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, combines any two of the factors above to add an extra layer of security before giving access to a given account. The most common 2FA involves a username and password (Something you know) and a secret PIN sent to your smartphone (Something you have). In this instance, knowing your password wouldn’t be enough for someone to gain access to your account. They will also have to have your smartphone and unlock it to get that PIN. 2FA is highly recommended for your primary email and bank accounts.

2) Protect Your Mobile Devices

Since we just learned that our smartphones are the most common second factor of 2FA, we must protect them as well — not only in the literal sense. Here are ways you can protect your smartphone:

  • Use a strong PIN or password combined with your fingerprint or facial recognition.
  • Enable device encryption to protect your data when your phone is locked. All iPhones and some Android devices encrypt their data by default.
  • Back up your smartphone regularly to an external drive or cloud storage. Doing so gives you peace of mind if you ever find yourself in a situation where the only solution is completely erasing your smartphone, such as device loss, theft or ransomware attack. You can always restore your data on the new device.

3) Always Update Your Software

Yes, sometimes updates can be scary by carrying a lot of changes that will only make your device more complex than it already is. But they also have security patches to fix any discovered vulnerability from the previous version that hackers could exploit.

An easy way to stay on top of updating your device software and operating system is by enabling “Automatic Update.”

Above all others, be sure always to keep your antivirus software updated.

4) Limit Access Permission for Apps

Nowadays, apps usually ask for more access permission than necessary. For instance, an application for taking notes shouldn’t need access to all your photos and location. Moreover, no application should have access to your location all the time, even maps. Fortunately, both iOS and Android offer ways to limit access for each app on your smartphone. The steps for changing the access permission for your apps are similar on both operating systems:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Tap Privacy & Security.
  • Select a permission type. If you allowed or denied this permission type to any apps, you’ll find them here.
  • To change an app’s permission, tap the app, then choose your permission settings. For example, if you selected Location in the previous step, you will see all the apps currently using your location and their access level. Selecting one of the apps from the list allows you to switch its access level from Always (All the time) to While Using the App or even Never.

5) Monitor Your Accounts Regularly

Last but not least, regularly review your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activities. You can quickly do it with online banking. The sooner you catch a suspicious activity, the better your chances to revert the damages.

But why stop at bank accounts? You should review the same for your other online accounts, like social media accounts and any online retail accounts.

For more information, we invite you to access our free weekly virtual programming online at or call our toll-free national hotline at (888) 713-3495, open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. ET.

Ryan Kawamoto is a regional program manager for Older Adults Technology Services from AARP, a national nonprofit behind the award-winning Senior Planet program that brings together older adults to find ways to learn, work, create, exercise and thrive in today’s digital age. A longer version of this article was originally published on by Senior Planet’s resident “Techspert” Jonathan Ushindi Zaluke.