Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Oakley
No-one wants their devices to be hacked or infected with viruses that can damage their book files. But so many authors are being locked out of Twitter, losing their laptops, and allowing hackers a way in! Here, I look at the optimum levels of security that a writer should implement.
Let’s go hard in on this. As an author or writer, however you refer to yourself, you should have security embedded on to your system, to protect you and your files from getting out into the open.
Imagine for one moment, if a hacker got into your Amazon KDP account, Twitter, PayPal, and bank account, all at the same time. You would be – for want of a better word – screwed.
2FA (2 Factor Authentication)
Before I found out about Google Authenticator or similar apps, I used to rely on text messages containing a one-time code being sent to my phone. Then I read this.
Ever since the pandemic forced many people to work from home, the numbers of online hackers or intruders has increased. Text messaging over a mobile network is quickly becoming a legacy system that is exponentially vulnerable to security breaches.
If someone unsavoury has access to your phone, then they’re already in all your devices and folders, and it’s already too late.
I use Google Authenticator but there are many others on the market. If you use LastPass as a password manager then the premium package comes bundled with their own authenticator. The Google one is free and is a standalone app which increases its security.
Make sure to have the authenticator app double-protected with your fingerprint or a passcode. Access codes on the app change every 30 seconds.
Replacing text messages with E2EE messaging
E2EE – end to end encryption apps are out there but it’s difficult to make sure you get the right one as many don’t do what they tell you they do.
WhatsApp, for example uses a form of E2EE but messages can be read by Facebook Messenger if you have that also installed on your phone. And now that it is owned by Facebook, then privacy has mostly jumped ship.
Signal has become popular as an E2EE messaging app, but I’ve gone all in with MEGAchat which comes bundled with the Mega Cloud Storage package (more on that in a moment).
MEGAchat is probably the most secure non-dark-web E2EE messaging service out there at the moment and its security features are jam-packed. It works on 4G and has been the underground standard of true private messaging apps since 2015.
Isn’t using E2EE messaging overkill? No. Text messaging is a legacy system that is open to many security breaches. I know I’d rather have my messages secured in the knowledge that I won’t be hacked anytime soon.
Backing up your folders to multiple locations
I know, it sounds boring when people talk about backing your stuff up, but after a terrible experience with OneDrive, I realised I needed to be more careful.
Many months ago, I was using Microsoft OneDrive to automatically save my writing as I went along but the system had a habit of creating new versions of the file in OneDrive cloud AND on my desktop.
I would end up with three files to start with and if I removed that file from OneDrive then it would be removed from my hard drive. Long story short; I would never recommend OneDrive to anyone.
Enter better cloud storage, and remember, I don’t use affiliate links or ads! I mentioned MEGAchat above which is a bonus feature of the Mega Secure Cloud Storage package. One of the best out there that comes with 20 GB of highly secure storage on its free package.
You get an extra 5 GB of storage when you add the android app and complete other ‘missions’. Their pro plans have the same security as the free plan but offer storage up to 15 TB!
The virtual drive feature is a godsend, and it doesn’t mess around like OneDrive does. It performs intuitively as a good back up service should, and I don’t know what I’d do without it now.
Once a month, as a failsafe, I also back up all my folders to an external cold hard drive to ensure I never lose anything. It’s also backed up within Windows automatically but that can’t always be trusted.
Desktop security suite and antivirus
I’ll be the first to admit that I rarely used antivirus programs as I believed they were a rip off. Then I started writing again and was suddenly worried about a desktop intrusion! Thus, I had to go looking for a good antivirus program – and I’m glad I did.
After a lot of research, I settled on Bitdefender. It’s one of the better ones out there and is less of an antivirus program and more of a total security suite.
The password manager helps to secure all sites I enter a password on and enables me to use an extremely complicated unique password for each site – including KDP! My only gripe with the Bitdefender password manager is that it doesn’t sync to Android but biometrics overcomes that.
Its Android security package is exemplary and enables you to lock all apps on the device, which means any app can only be opened with a fingerprint or passcode. I still find new ways of using Bitdefender all the time, and its great peace of mind.
Internet security and web protection
I download so much in the way of book cover images, photoshop files, and formatting files that I needed something to help fight the growing onslaught of attacks through the internet.
Again, Bitdefender includes browser extensions and security against ransomware and other internet issues. It also lets you know if you are about to enter a dodgy site and can be set to block tracking cookies and tracers from any site you visit.
There’s also a nice touch on the search listings in the way of a green tick. When you search for something on Google or other engines, if a site is safe to enter, then a green tick will appear next to the title link to let you know it’s safe.
Speaking of browsers, I use the Brave browser, which is one of the safest internet browsers out there today. It’s still a challenge to fully move away from Chrome but I’m using Brave more and more and the Android version is as good as Chrome.
If you’re carrying out dodgy research, then you can open a private browser in Brave and use the Tor network within that browser. Every little bit of privacy helps.
Everyone should also be using a VPN to explore the internet. I use Bitdefender VPN and have had no problems with it all. Though, there are many others out there, but generally all the same price.
As someone who writes full time, desktop and internet security is paramount for peace of mind in the event of an attack by virus or hacker.
The above is what I use and your set up may be different. Either way, hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you think – or if there’s something I’ve missed that we should also use!