Hot Topics: 5 Simple Steps to Online Safety

Hello there! I have an exciting and unusual story to share with you today. Back in 2019, when I was working at Duo Security, I did something called “Hot Topics – with Steve Edwards” that you might call daring, adventurous, or, let’s be honest, a little crazy.

I made a video aiming to educate viewers about the top five things they could do to stay safe online. But to make things interesting, I decided to up the stakes. Just before I started sharing my advice, I ate a Carolina Reaper. For those who don’t know, the Carolina Reaper held the title of the world’s hottest pepper at that time.

The challenge? To deliver these essential tips through the tears and pain that consuming this fiery pepper would inevitably bring. It was quite the spectacle, hilarious for viewers but, I assure you, rather excruciating for me.

Why the pepper, you ask? I wanted to show that the advice I was about to share was so straightforward that I could deliver it under duress. And, I won’t lie, it was also a great attention grabber.

So, what were the Hot Topics I shared while wiping away tears and trying not to breathe fire? It’s a simple list, developed based on Google research presented at a Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security. Here it is:

  1. Install available updates: It can be easy to ignore those pop-ups asking you to update your software, but these updates often include vital security improvements. Don’t put them off—keep your systems updated.

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  2. Use strong passwords: Your dog’s name or the classic ‘123456’ won’t cut it. A strong password uses a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols and is not easily guessed.

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  3. Use unique passwords: Don’t use the same password across multiple accounts. If one account is compromised, it could lead to a domino effect on your other accounts. Keep each one unique to limit your exposure.

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  4. Use a password manager: You might be thinking, “Unique passwords for every account? How will I remember them all?” That’s where password managers come in. They securely store your passwords and can generate new, strong ones when needed.

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  5. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) everywhere: This adds an extra layer of security to your accounts, making it harder for attackers to gain access even if they have your password.

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There you have it—five simple steps to significantly enhance your online safety. And believe me, if I could share these tips while fighting the fire of a Carolina Reaper, you can certainly remember and implement them. Security doesn’t have to be complicated, and every step you take makes a difference. Stay safe online!

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