As a proud member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO), I have the opportunity to connect with organizers from around the world. To date, I have attended five NAPO conferences and earned three NAPO Specialist Certificates (Residential Organizing, Workplace Productivity, and Life Transitions).
I have developed trusted relationships with organizers from New Jersey to California, from Brazil to England, Korea, and Kenya! We keep in touch through an internal communication system on the NAPO website and share ideas, tips and support each other through the challenges of being solopreneurs.
When two NAPO members recently posted messages sharing their experiences of being viciously hacked online, we all responded with support, ideas, virtual hugs and just lending an ear for them to vent. I share this with you because what happened to them could happen to any of us. Both colleagues run successful businesses, are detailed-oriented (of course) and smart. But these recent hacking events turned both their personal and professional lives upside down.
As a result of their hacking, email accounts and/or websites were hijacked by hackers who in one case held my colleague’s email and website hostage by demanding payment via Bitcoin. In one case the FBI got involved. The hackers sent spam emails to contact lists (including clients and family), intruded upon every login that they had, changed passwords where they could, and created total mayhem with their ability to conduct business for weeks. Can you imagine this nightmare? You don’t have to be a small business owner to appreciate the negative impact a hacker could have on your life.
I thought I would share some of the tips you may find useful to prevent this from happening to us. Clearly, the hackers are very smart and know how to work the security system of the internet, but we can take charge of our online life to make it more secure.
1. Utilize a two-factor verification for important websites that you access. That requires that you add a code sent to your cell phone or landline before you log into the site. It’s a minor annoyance but worth the effort. Not all online accounts offer it, but if they do sign up (even if it’s just for your bank accounts, investments, email account, or website if you have one).
2. Make sure that any site you have online has multiple forms of login (a phone number, an alternate email or trusted second person who can gain access).
3. Do not save passwords or credit card information to the cloud.
4. Lock your credit through the three credit-reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion and Equifax).
5. Create an account at https://www.ssa.gov/ to protect your social security benefits.
6. File your taxes early, especially if you are expecting a refund.
7. Cover the camera on your desktop or laptop with tape or a sticky note.
8. Have good virus protection on your computer.
9. Close out old email accounts.
10. Set up alerts for all credit cards so any time it’s used you are informed by email.
Normally I don’t share preachy how-to tips with my readers, but after hearing about these two horrific events from my esteemed colleagues, I thought it best to share the knowledge. If you get one suggestion out of this, my mission has been accomplished.
I promise that September’s article will be more uplifting and positive. Wishing you a cool, healthy and joyful August. See you in September.
Happy organizing, and don’t forget to change your passwords!
By Eileen Bergman
Eileen Bergman is a professional organizer, a proud member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO). Eileen is listed in the resource directory for the Hoarding Disorder Resource and Training Group. Eileen may be reached at 973 303 3236 or [email protected].