Everyday Cyber Safety Practices

by Spencer Coursen

Recent news has once again shed light onto the ever increasing need to engage your cyber security with the same vigilance as your personal security.  All too often, our own complacency leaves us vulnerable to the exploitation efforts of the less than noble.  You don’t need to be a skilled practitioner of computer science or a tech guru to keep yourself safe.  You just need to know and employ the basics as discussed below:

  • Install strong virus and malware protection for all computers that access social networking sites.  Be sure to update the software whenever possible.  When the pop-up screen for an update is available try to always click “download and install” rather than “remind me later.”  Cyber probes and attacks increase greatly in the timeframe between software updates when they have figured out the old system, but have yet to figure out the new.  Don’t tip the advantage to the favor of your adversary.

  • Passwords should be strong and frequently changed.  It is important to not use the same password for more than one site, nor is it good to keep the same passwords in rotation.  Strong passwords are at least 6 characters long and combine numbers, symbols and letters (in varying case)  Do not use any passwords that contain anything that might be found in a dictionary or which have a personal association i.e.; your SS #,  school sports number (Jordan23) or anything with your day, month, year of birth.  The stronger a password, the more difficult it will be to be guessed or hacked.  4U@7Yu is a much stronger password than pass123word

  • Do not visit unknown websites sent to you via private messages and emails from persons you don’t know know - this also goes for website invites which may seem out of character for those persons you do know.  Your mom is very likely not recommending you buy pharmaceuticals from Korea.  If it seems like a fraud...it’s a fraud.

  • Social Media should never include private information.  Don’t put anything on your social media page you would not be comfortable sharing with everyone.  Privacy settings on websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and a variety of other social-sharing sites change often.  Familiarize yourself with the site’s privacy settings and be sure take advantage of the options offering you the most privacy.  Pictures of your home, car, and associated geotags are all useful pieces of information a potential hacker may use to exploit your cyber identity.

  • Create unique answers to password recovery questions.  Inevitably we will all at one time or another forget a password.  When setting up your recovery options, it is perfectly acceptably to answer the generic questions with something completely random. These answers are not checked for truthfulness and are simply in place to protect your information from unauthorized attempts at gaining access.  Cyber criminals are quite skilled at finding out the real answers to these password challenge questions from friends, colleagues, or from information you or your online acquaintances have previously posted online.  For the purposes of password recovery,  “Abracadabra” is a perfectly acceptable answer to “What is your mothers maiden name?” Your own imagination is often times your best security option.

  • Do not “jail break” your mobile device.  Doing so requires the user to disable the intrinsic security features of the device which means malicious applications will have access to all facets of information on your phone - regardless of your permission.  Applications downloaded from verified vendors like Apple’s App Store have requirements that help protect the user.  These requirements are bypassed once the jailbreak has taken place, which means the applications will no longer need to ask your permission before granting access to your contacts, GPS location or information associated with other files on your phone, like your pictures, text messages and emails.

  • Do not engage in illegal downloads.  Unlicensed internet services offering free downloads, zip files, or torrents of movies, music and other software packages often contain malicious spyware that is specifically designed to exploit your cyber security.  These illegal downloads are often the main distribution method for delivering a virus or a trojan horse to your system.

  • Create specific email addresses for specific uses.  Avoid using the same email account for all of your internet activity.  Employing task-specific email addresses will reduce your vulnerability by having your activities compartmentalized into those specific email accounts, and will limit the amount of damage any one compromised account can do to your overall cyber security.  There is no limit to email addresses you may create.  Trust me, you’ll still be able to find the friends you want to follow, it just won’t be as easy for them to find you...this is a good thing. Having one email account for Facebook, one for twitter, another for correspondence, and yet another for e-commerce is perfectly acceptable and encouraged.

  • Do not label folders or sub-folders with titles that promote intrigue or interest.  Labels such as “Passwords”  “Bank Account” and “Important” are all specifically targeted items of interest in cyber attacks and probing mechanisms.  Instead, label things with specific meaning to you with names of seemingly unrelated associations.  If you’re favorite dessert is chocolate cake this may be the name of your favorites folder, whereas the food that gives your heartburn may be the appropriately named folder associated with your annoying co-worker.  This practice also works great for the “notes” application on your mobile device.

  • Utilize “Drafts” in an unassociated email account.  With every website requiring a unique sequence of usernames, passwords, and additional log in features, it is often hard to keep track of them all - especially when they are all independently changed at varying intervals. Creating an additional email address known only to you, and then storing this information in a “Draft Email”  will afford you a secure online hiding place for your information that you can access globally.

  • Log out of accounts when done.  You don’t have to shut down your computer, but the simple act of logging out of accounts especially on shared wifi, networks or computers (think Starbucks free wifi) will prevent the unfavorable access of your private information.

Following these everyday practices will reduce your own likelihood of being victimized, and will help you to prepare today for a safer tomorrow.

On the radio program Thursday, Glenn Beck sat down with chief researcher Jason Buttrill to go over two bombshell developments that have recently come to light regarding former Vice President Joe Biden's role in the 2016 dismissal of Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin.

"Wow! Two huge stories dropped within about 24 hours of each other," Jason began. He went on to explain that a court ruling in Ukraine has just prompted an "actual criminal investigation against Joe Biden in Ukraine."

This stunning development coincided with the release of leaked phone conversations, which took place in late 2015 and early 2016, allegedly among then-Vice President Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Ukraine's former President Petro Poroshenko.

One of the audiotapes seems to confirm allegations of a quid pro quo between Biden and Poroshenko, with the later admitting that he asked Shokin to resign despite having no evidence of him "doing anything wrong" in exchange for a $1 billion loan guarantee.

"Poroshenko said, 'despite the fact that we didn't have any corruption charges on [Shokin], and we don't have any information about him doing something wrong, I asked him to resign,'" Jason explained. "But none of the Western media is pointing this out."

Watch the video below for more details:


Listen to the released audiotapes in full here.

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A recently declassified email, written by former National Security Adviser Susan Rice and sent herself on the day of President Donald Trump's inauguration, reveals the players involved in the origins of the Trump-Russia probe and "unmasking" of then-incoming National Security Adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn.

Rice's email details a meeting in the Oval Office on Jan 5, 2017, which included herself, former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former Vice President Joe Biden, and former President Barack Obama. Acting Director of National Intelligence, Richard Grenell, fully declassified the email recently amid President Trump's repeated references to "Obamagate" and claims that Obama "used his last weeks in office to target incoming officials and sabotage the new administration."

On Glenn Beck's Wednesday night special, Glenn broke down the details of Rice's email and discussed what they reveal about the Obama administration officials involved in the Russia investigation's origins.

Watch the video clip below:

Fellow BlazeTV host, Mark Levin, joined Glenn Beck on his exclusive Friday episode of "GlennTV" to discuss why the declassified list of Obama administration officials who were aware of the details of Gen. Michael Flynn's wiretapped phone calls are so significant.

Glenn argued that Obama built a covert bureaucracy to "transform America" for a long time to come, and Gen. Flynn was targeted because he happened to know "where the bodies were buried", making him a threat to Obama's "secret legacy."

Levin agreed, noting the "shocking extent of the police state tactics" by the Obama administration. He recalled several scandalous happenings during Obama's "scandal free presidency," which nobody seems to remember.

Watch the video below for more:


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Colleges and universities should be home to a lively and open debate about questions both current and timeless, independent from a political bias or rules that stifle speech. Unfortunately for students, speaking out about personal beliefs or challenging political dogma can be a dangerous undertaking. I experienced this firsthand as an undergraduate, and I'm fighting that trend now as an adjunct professor.

In 2013, Glenn Beck was one of the most listened to radio personalities in the world. For a college senior with hopes of working on policy and media, a job working for Glenn was a ticket to big things. I needed a foot in the door and hoped to tap into the alumni network at the small liberal arts school where I was an undergrad. When I met with a career services specialist in early March 2013 about possible alumni connections to Glenn Beck, she disdainfully told me: "Why would you want to work for someone like him?" That was the beginning and end of our conversation.

I was floored by her response, and sent an email to the school complaining that her behavior was inappropriate. Her personal opinions, political or otherwise, I argued, shouldn't play a role in the decision to help students.

That isn't the kind of response a student should hear when seeking guidance and help in kick starting their career. Regardless of the position, a career specialist or professors' opinion or belief shouldn't be a factor in whether the student deserves access to the alumni network and schools' resources.

Now, seven years later, I work full time for a law firm and part time as an adjunct teaching business to undergraduate students. The culture at colleges and universities seems to have gotten even worse, unfortunately, since I was an undergrad.

College is a time to explore, dream big and challenge assumptions.

I never want to see a student told they shouldn't pursue their goals, regardless of their personal or political beliefs. College is a time to explore, dream big and challenge assumptions. I never got access to the alumni network or schools' resources from the career services office.

Lucky for students in 2020, there are several legal organizations that help students protect their rights when an issue goes beyond what can be handled by an undergraduate facing tremendous pressure from a powerful academic institution. Organizations like Speech First and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), for instance, are resources I wish I knew about at the time.

When I experienced mistreatment from my college, I spoke up and challenged the behavior by emailing the administration and explaining what happened. I received a letter from the career services specialist apologizing for the "unprofessional comment."

What she described in that apology as a "momentary lapse of good judgement" was anything but momentary. It was indicative of the larger battle for ideas that has been happening on college campuses across the country. In the past seven years, the pressure, mistreatment and oppression of free expression have only increased. Even right now, some are raising concerns that campus administrations are using the COVID-19 pandemic to limit free speech even further. Social distancing guidelines and crowd size may both be used to limit or refuse controversial speakers.

Students often feel pressure to conform to a college or university's wishes. If they don't, they could be expelled, fail a class or experience other retribution. The college holds all the cards. On most campuses, the burden of proof for guilt in student conduct hearings is "more likely than not," making it very difficult for students to stand up for their rights without legal help.

As an adjunct professor, every student who comes to me for help in finding purpose gets my full support and my active help — even if the students' goals run counter to mine. But I have learned something crucial in my time in this role: It's not the job of an educator to dictate a student's purpose in life. I'm meant to help them achieve their dreams, no matter what.

Conner Drigotas is the Director of Communications and Development at a national law firm and is a Young Voices contributor.