In the early days of the Russo-Ukrainian war, I warned you about 10 downsides between Russia and Ukraine to expect. We are already seeing evidence of these scams in action. Make sure you keep your digital guard.
Smishing – the inside term for fraudulent texts – is a common route. Most people have less guarded texts than emails. Look for these signs that a text is bad news and how to report it.
Disinformation and misleading posts are also critical of social media. Here are my tricks for spotting fake Russian accounts and posts.
As sanctions increase and Russian tactics intensify, it’s easy to think that you won’t be affected except by rising gas prices. This idea is exactly what will get you in trouble – it’s time to wake up.
Cyber attacks: what you need to know
In 2020, Russian hackers invaded several federal government agencies, including the Nuclear Weapons Agency. This is a little fries for what can come. A Russian attack on fiber-optic cables or our satellites would destroy a large number of vital sectors, such as Internet traffic, banking, GPS, water treatment facilities, power plants, and the power grid.
Many cybersecurity experts anticipate widespread denial of service attacks. This attack floods the website with trillions of votes. The website is too busy responding to every ping that it can respond to anything else. If this happens, government and private industry can take days or even months to sort through.
Wait, there is more. Russia can launch phishing and other attacks to plant dangerous malware and ransomware on computers, commercial networks, and individuals.
What if the internet goes down? We have a plan
Our minds jump to a worst-case scenario in times of trouble. Say your internet is down. Before blaming a large-scale attack, make sure the problem is no closer to home.
Click or tap here for the best apps that you can use to troubleshoot bad Wi-Fi for Android and iPhone. You can also check the Down Detector site if only specific sites are not loading.
If your internet is out and you have cellular service, you can use your phone as a hotspot. You need to set this beforehand, until you feel comfortable using it.
Here’s how to turn your iPhone or Android device into a portable hotspot.
What if there is no wireless service? You have a plan for that too
When Michael Jackson died 13 years ago, many people were calling each other and the country’s mobile phone system became overwhelmed and unusable. Hurricane Sandy swept through Lower New York City in 2012. Once again, cell phones were the first service launched.
If America comes under cyber attacks, expect to lose a reliable service. Now is the time to work on your personal plan for what you and your family will do without using smartphones.
Nominate one person in your family (this person may be you) to check in regularly. Maybe once a day. Maybe once a week.
If there’s no cellular connection, but your internet is working, use a texting app, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or another messaging option to stay in touch. Practice with your family and friends on the pre-selected platform. The last thing you want to discover is a series of panicked WhatsApp messages hours later when you were trying to communicate via Facebook Messenger.
Know that texting will often work even when cell lines are jammed.
Protect your texts: Your text messages can be intercepted by anyone – unless you take this step.
“The more torment I see, the more I want to see it.”Why can’t we stop controlling Ukraine
Find alternative shipping methods
Full disclosure: I have a backup generator in my house. At first, I thought it was a complete waste of money. Now that the generator has automatically started a few times when the power goes out, I’m glad I made the investment. Tap or click here for five solid options.
Generators aren’t the only way to go. We recently reviewed a solar option at Komando.com that can power up to 85% of devices. It is expensive but powerful to meet long-term needs.
Instead, power banks are an affordable way to recharge your devices. Most power banks will keep the fee for a few months. Anker power bank has enough power to charge two phones, and its price is about $20. Another option that’s powerful enough to charge a laptop once or an iPhone 11 four times.
Solar powered chargers in question. For about $50, this one from BLAVOR takes about 13 hours to recharge, and then can power an iPhone up to 4.5 times.
Store your medicines
A ransomware attack could jeopardize the drug supply. Email your doctor and ask to fill in a 90-day prescription. Have them email it to print and take a hard copy to the pharmacy.
Better yet, create an online account with your pharmacy. This way, you can monitor any activity and make special requests. Not only will getting your 90-day prescriptions get you covered in the event of supply issues, you might also be able to save some money as well.
Tap or click here for help creating an account at your pharmacy.
Home Security: Shut Down Your Home Network
Adjusting router settings can be intimidating if you haven’t done this before. Start by logging into your router’s management console. Each router has a different way of doing this; Check your manual for specific instructions.
You don’t have a clue? Check the manufacturer’s website or click or tap to visit a site with thousands of user manuals.
You want to look at the list of Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol clients or the Attached Devices section. This shows the gadgets connected to your router, usually listed by IP address, MAC address, and/or name.
Find out which one belongs to you. You should recognize the name of the main computer, and the tablet or smartphone should bear the name of the manufacturer or model. If you cannot understand the menu or select specific devices, turn off each tool one by one.
Tap or click here for more in-depth steps and instructions to secure your router to strangers.
Enable your antivirus if you are not already using it
A lot of malware today is deceptive enough to hide on your system without leaving many clues.
There are signs of infection.
‘Time bomb’:Russian ransomware attacks are coming. What small businesses should be doing now.
Is your computer or phone using more data than usual? Do your devices get hot when you touch them for no reason? You might see emails or texts in your outbox that you don’t remember sending. Tap or click for more evidence that your devices have been hacked.
A powerful antivirus can detect the signs that you are unable to do so. I recommend scanning your system regularly for malware, spyware, and other threats. My choice is TotalAV, the sponsor of my national radio show.
Turn on your VPN too
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a layer of protection between your devices and the Internet. It hides your IP address and location. It also encrypts your data after you leave your device and travel to any website you visit.
You want a VPN that doesn’t harvest and sell your information and works across multiple devices. Most of all, it should be fast and easy to use. I use ExpressVPN, the sponsor of my national radio show because it’s all of this.
Additional Steps for Small Business Owners
Business is a greater goal than individuals. After all, this is where the money is. If you are running a business, you need to get your data in order. Ransomware threats make no sense when you have a solid backup of all your essential information. Click or tap for my professional tips to avoid ransomware and what to do if your company is attacked.
It’s also an excellent time to remind your employees not to open emails from unknown senders or download attachments they didn’t request. Phishing scams are too widespread and destructive to ignore. Tap or click here to learn how a phishing attack allows hackers to 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 cyber attacks on America have never been higher than they are now.
Please share this story with your friends and family to make sure they are prepared too.
Bonus tip: Incredible story of hackers arriving at a hospital with 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 patient records. But what happened when the hackers found out that it is a hospital will undoubtedly surprise you.
Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Explains” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.
Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your own. Just search for my last name, “Commando”.
Catch up on the latest tech on the Kim Komando Show, the country’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and provides advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data breaches. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.
The opinions and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of USA TODAY.