Cybersecurity and you

These have been particularly challenging days. I often find myself speaking with individual community members who are struggling to feel secure, are anxious or angry about what they see in the news, concerned about family members (particularly children in school and on college campuses!), struggling in work situations and various other issues. The range of concerns is quite varied and often simply talking with someone who provides a professional perspective can be immensely reassuring. Additionally, my goal is that together we develop some concrete steps or actions you can take which help you navigate your situation. If you have safety or security concerns in your personal or professional life, I’m always available to meet with you confidentially. Please reach out at or cell phone 872-273-9214.
Personal security comes in many forms and through various means – physical awareness, training tools, healthy social media boundaries, and in online spaces. Over the years I’ve used a variety of tools to protect myself online, and I’ve shared some of these with you before. But it’s been a while and I thought I’d revisit the topic. These are not official SCN recommendations but are an accumulation of practices I’ve adopted and have found useful to me. 
As a Jewish community professional, I do feel vulnerable - my name, email address, and photo are publicly available on the JFGP website, and it used to take exactly one click to put that together and find out my home address and personal cell number. I felt very exposed by that and now subscribe to This is an online service that among other things, scrubs publicly available databases and continually requests the removal of my information. It’s been over a year since I subscribed, and I’m pleased that my personal address is not the first thing that pops up anymore. I test it periodically and am very happy with the results. 
We all have online accounts and hackers have likely obtained data from at least one of them. If you want to know which of your accounts have been compromised, search for your email address on “Have I Been Pawned?” ( This is a free service that cross-references your email address with hundreds of data breaches. When I learn of a website that has had a data breach and where I have an account, I change my password. Some companies, like 23andme, which had a breach a few months back, took proactive steps and forced a password reset. Many companies do not, so it’s important to be proactive. Password keepers are more common now and there are many options. These can be subscription programs like that maintain all your passwords in one place. Apple products have strong privacy policies, and another option is to store all your passwords in your “keychain,” even if you don’t access all the websites on your phone or computer. It becomes a single stop for password and account storage so if you pass unexpectedly and a family member has access to your phone or computer, they can get into all your accounts, making things easier for those who will need to administer your estate. 
For all my banking and investment-related accounts, I’ve installed two-step authentication, so I get a text or email to confirm it’s really me. It’s a little annoying to be sure, but particularly for financial accounts, it’s a small extra layer of protection that I feel better about. 
Companies and websites track everything we do online. Most people think the government knows everything about them, but it’s really businesses that do! Every ad, social network button, and website collects information about your location, browsing habits, and more. To prevent some of that collection, I’ve installed on my laptop. Ghostery is a free tracker and advertisement blocker that prevents access to my browsing habits. While I don’t think this is a major safety or security issue, it’s been fascinating to see just how many trackers are working behind the scenes as I surf the web. 
Lastly, our phones are with us almost everywhere we go. Most phone application default settings are set to track your location. Take some time to go through your settings and turn off your location for everything that doesn’t need to know where you are. Yes, Apple and Google maps need it, but Spotify, Reddit, Amazon, and a lot of others don’t need to. Consider doing the same for your “microphone” setting as well and ensure the iPhone setting “Allow Apps to Request to Track” is toggled off. I would also argue not everyone needs access to all your photos. Anything you let an application have access to, you can be sure they are using it for something. 
None of these things I’ve listed above are going to dramatically change your life. What I like is that in a world where there’s a lot I can’t control, there are a few things I can do. It’s kind of like safety and security training (see how I slid that in there?!). If you’d like to join one of my online safety and security courses, please see my security page on the JFGP website:


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