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In the very first days that Russia started the Ukraine war, I warned you about 10 Russia-Ukraine disadvantages to expect. We are already seeing evidence of these scams in action. Make sure you keep your digital watch up to date.
Smishing – the insider term for scam texts – is a popular route. Most people are less guarded by scanning texts than emails. Look for these signs, a text is bad news and how to report it.
Misinformation and misleading posts also strike down on social media. Here are my tricks for spotting fake Russian accounts and posts.
As sanctions increase and Russia’s tactics intensify, it’s easy to believe that you will not be affected except by high gas prices. This idea is exactly what will get you in trouble – time to wake up.
What you need to know
In 2020, Russian hackers invaded several federal government agencies, including the Nuclear Weapons Agency. These are small potatoes of what could come. A Russian attack on our fiber optic cables or satellites would destroy a host of critical sectors, such as internet traffic, banking, GPS, water treatment plants, power plants and the electricity grid.
Many cybersecurity experts predict large-scale Denial of Service attacks. This attack floods a website with trillions of pings. The website is so busy answering every ping that it can not respond to anything else. If this happens, the government and the private industry could take days or even months to fix.
Wait, there’s more. Russia could launch phishing and other attacks to plant dangerous malware and ransomware on companies and individual computers and networks.
Have a plan in case your internet goes down
Our minds jump to the worst case scenario in times of need. Say your internet is going out. Before blaming a major attack, make sure the problem is not closer to home.
Tap or click here to see the best apps you can use to troubleshoot your bad Wi-Fi for Android and iPhone. You can also check the outcome monitoring site Down Detector if only certain sites are not loaded.
If your internet is out and you have mobile service, you can use your phone as a hotspot. You need to set this in advance so you are comfortable using it.
How to make yours iPhone or Android to a mobile hotspot.
Also have a plan for no mobile service
When Michael Jackson died 13 years ago, so many people called each other that the country’s cell phone system became overwhelmed and useless. Hurricane Sandy flooded lower New York City in 2012. Again, cell phones were the first service to go.
If America is hit by cyber attacks, expect to lose reliable service. Now is the time to work on your personal plan for what you and your family will do without working smartphones.
Nominate one person in your family (maybe that person is you) to check in regularly. Maybe it’s once a day; maybe it’s once a week.
If there is no mobile connection but your internet is working, use your sms app, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or another messaging option to stay in touch. Train with your family and friends on the chosen platform in advance. The last thing you will discover is a series of panicky WhatsApp messages hours later when you have tried to communicate via Facebook Messenger.
Know that texting will often work even when cell phone lines are jammed.
RELATED: Anyone can intercept your text messages – unless you take this step.
Find alternative charging methods
Full disclosure: I have a backup generator in my home. At first I thought it was a total waste of money. Now that the generator has automatically started up a few times when the power goes out, I’m glad I made the investment. Click or click here for five solid options.
Generators are not the only way to go. We recently reviewed a solar cell option on Komando.com which can supply up to 85% of the appliances. It is expensive but powerful for long lasting needs.
Alternatively, powerbanks are an affordable way to recharge your devices. Most powerbanks will hold a charge for a few months. This powerbank from Anker has enough juice to charge two phones and it’s about $ 20. This option is powerful enough to charge a laptop once or an iPhone 11 four times.
Solar-powered chargers operate at the tip of a knife. For about $ 50, this one from BLAVOR takes about 13 hours to recharge, and can then turn on an iPhone up to 4.5 times.
Stock up on your medicine
A ransomware attack can compromise the drug supply. Send an email to your doctor asking for a 90-day prescription. Have them email it to you to print it out and take a hard copy to the pharmacy.
Even better, create an online account at your pharmacy. This way you can monitor any activity and make special requests. Getting 90-day prescriptions will not only keep you covered in case of supply problems, but you may also be able to save some money.
Click or click here for help setting up an account with your pharmacy.
Lock your home network
Adjusting router settings can feel daunting if you’ve never done it before. Start by logging in to your router’s administration console. Each router has a different way of doing this; check your manual for specific instructions.
Do not have a manual? Check the manufacturer’s website or tap or click to visit a site that compiles thousands of user guides.
You will see the DHCP Client List or Attachments section. This shows which gadgets are connected to your router, typically listed by IP address, MAC address and / or name.
Find out which ones belong to you. You should recognize the name of your main computer, and your tablet or smartphone should have the name of the manufacturer or model. If you cannot understand the list or identify specific devices, turn off each gadget one by one.
Click or click here for more in-depth steps and instructions to lock your router to outsiders.
Enable antivirus if you are not already using it
Much of today’s malware is sneaky enough to hide on your system without leaving many traces.
There are signs of infection.
Does your computer or phone use more data than usual? Do your devices get hot to the touch for no reason? You may see emails or text messages in your inbox that you do not remember sending. Tap or click to get more clues, your devices have been hacked.
A solid antivirus program can detect the signs that you can not. I recommend that you regularly scan your system for malware, spyware, and other threats. My choice is TotalAVa sponsor of my national radio program.
Also turn on your VPN
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a layer of protection between your devices and the Internet. It hides your IP address and your location. It also encrypts your data after leaving your device and traveling to the site you are visiting.
You want a VPN that does not harvest and sell your information, and one that works across multiple devices. Most of all, it should be quick and easy to use. I use ExpressVPNsponsor of my national radio program because that’s all this.
Extra steps for small business owners
Businesses are a bigger target than individuals. That’s where the money is. If you run a business, you need to keep track of your data. Ransomware threats are pointless when you have a solid backup of all your essential information.
Tap or click to get my pro-tips to avoid ransomware and what to do if your business gets attacked.
It’s also a great time to remind your employees not to open emails from unknown senders or download attachments they have not requested. Phishing scams are too widespread and destructive to ignore. Click or click here to learn how a phishing attack lets hackers read and send emails from your account.
Finally, take a deep breath. This is not a time to panic or overreact, but keep in mind that the chances of cyberattacks on America have never been higher than right now.
Please share this story with your friends and family to make sure they are prepared too.
Bonus tip: An incredible story about hackers hitting a hospital for ransomware
Ransomware hackers recently hit a hospital, and everything from heart machines to IV pumps stopped working. Doctors and nurses had to use pen and paper. There were no electronic medical records. But what happened when the hackers found out it was a hospital will no doubt surprise you.
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What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s National Radio Program and press or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or click or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.
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Learn about all the latest technology at The Kim Komando Show, the country’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim accepts calls and advises on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacking. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.