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So you're the family tech support

victoria profile image Victoria Drake Originally published at victoria.dev on ใƒป3 min read

๐ŸŽ„๐ŸŒŸ Happy holidays! ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŽ„

For those of you seeing relatives this season, chances are that youโ€™re the designated family tech support. If part of your time home for the holidays is spent on software updates and troubleshooting WiFi, here are a few other quick wins to help boost your familyโ€™s online privacy and security.

1. Set up a VPN

Using a VPN is Online Safety 101, but the biggest barrier to effectiveness is not remembering to turn it on. ExpressVPNโ€™s Network Lock kill switch feature lets you set-it-and-forget-it, making it seamless to add VPN protection to your online activities. I go in-depth on this privacy-focused VPN here.

2. Introduce a password manager

If your family member uses the same password everywhere (<petname>+<house number>, same as last year) because passwords are hard to remember, introduce them to their new best friend, 1Password. Help your family get set up with secure passwords they donโ€™t have to write down on Post-It notes โ€“ just one master pass(phrase) is all you need.

When choosing a passphrase, avoid using information easily found on social media accounts, like pet names, favorite sports teams, favorite brands, or birthdays.

3. Switch to DuckDuckGo

Help fight the Internet search monopoly by getting your family to use a search engine that respects their privacy. Go to your browser Settings and set your Default Search Engine (that uses the URL bar) to DuckDuckGo. Break the ice with an instant answer feature, like searching โ€œcalendarโ€ so you can count down to Christmas.

(You might want to search for โ€œclassic cocktails cheat sheetโ€ after all this.)

4. Install a better browser and blocker

While I prefer a Pi-hole, setting one up can be complex. Instead, help set up a privacy-preserving browser like Firefox or a wide-spectrum blocking extension like uBlock Origin (GitHub source).

Your family will get faster page load times, less advertisements interrupting articles and videos, and fewer sneaky trackers leaking browsing habits to big tech, all with near-zero maintenance.

Be a home-for-the-holidays hero!

Help improve your familyโ€™s security posture this holiday season. A little beefed-up cybersecurity may be one of the best gifts you can give!

Iโ€™m keeping it short-and-sweet this week. My annual Christmas post drops on December 24, full of warm fuzzy goodness and a tech tip or two. Thank you for being a subscriber โ€“ stay tuned!

Discussion (4)

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godbleak profile image
GodBleak • Edited

Your family doesn't need a VPN service to protect them online- unless they're living under an oppressive government. In the western world, VPN services are nothing more than security theater, using fear mongering to scare the public into buying their service.

We need to stop promoting VPN services as the cure-all to online safety, because they're not.

They'd have you believe that the content of your internet traffic is exposed, it's not. The only thing exposed is the domain name, if you're using SSL. And I'd bet nearly 90+% of your families traffic is using SSL.

And if your concern is about your ISP spying on you, well all you've done is place your trust in a company not bound by the same responsibilities as an ISP and their upstream ISP- both of whom may not even be in your country. If they abuse that trust, there may be nothing your local authorities can do.

The only real advertising points of a VPN service is

  • maybe the ability to access geo-restricted content.
  • they'll help you avoid legal consequences for piracy.

At the cost of network performance plus whatever the actual monetary cost is.

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peterwitham profile image
Peter Witham

Using a password manager that generates strong passwords is a good idea, even better would be to explain to them how 2 factor works and perhaps more importantly why they should use it. I get that it's annoying and the device is never with you when you need it, most likely laying between the sofa cushions :), but any extra level of defense is a good thing for accounts that involve money or personal data.

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer

Using a VPN is Online Safety 101

What actual safety benefits does a VPN really give you though?

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