Put your keys in the fridge - it's a security mnemonic...

When I first worked in an office I'd occasionally need to store something in the fridge.

One day I saw a set of keys in the fridge.

Assuming someone had misplaced them I tracked down the owner only to have them tell me they'd done it on purpose so they "...didn't forget to take their shopping home".

I thought that was a great idea.

As the years have gone by and I've aged I have learnt to mistrust my memory.

I have extensively used this "interlock" method in my day to day life.

I've built all sorts of things into the way I do things so they simply cannot be forgotten as long as I do things in the "normal" way.

For example, the USB stick I use mostly at customer sites is on my car keyring so I can't leave without it.

A couple of years back I "lost*" my favourite jacket out and about somewhere. Since then, when I am out, I zip my keys into the pocket of my jacket so that I can't leave without it.

If I am working on something and get interrupted I put it "in my way" so that at some point in time later I have no option but to stumble upon it, sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically, and as a result guarantee that I do eventually remember to finish the job.

As I type this it seems a little OCD but it really is just me not trusting my memory as much as I used to and not wanting to let things slip and possible let people down.

It is this "interlock" way of thinking that can be applied to your computer and online security too.

It is, in fact, how multi-factor authentication works i.e. something you know and something you have combined to grant you (and only you) access to something.

In other words, it is built-in to how you do things...security in this case.

If you use online banking you should already be using a dongle or receiving texts to verify payments to new payees.

I was reminded of this recently as a mnemonic while helping a customer recover from being hacked.

As is often the case, they'd been called up by someone pretending to be a legitimate authority of some kind.

The fraudsters took control of my customer's computer for a good couple of hours.

I'd taken them a copy of my blog post on protecting yourself from this: https://www.ihatemypc.com.au/post/2019/03/29/how-to-protect-yourself-from-hacking-and-other-remote-control-computer-scams

...but I realised that just reading this may not be enough for a lot of people.

A lot of people need an interlock built into the very fabric of how they do "things" on their computer.

The scammers know that you know how to get past any of the interlocks and security that may already be on your computer.

That's why they call you on the phone rather than try to hack their way in from the other side (from the internet - although, that happens too but that's a whole other story).

The simplest and most effective of the frauds are the phone calls that guide people through giving their money away willingly (albeit under false circumstances).

So what do these types of interlocks look like?

Well, I recently saved myself from fraud because of a business process I have in place.

I have a default behavior that all use of my logo etc, particularly in advertising etc., has to be approved by me. I never just let any advertiser do what they want without written approval.

It was this requirement that smoked out a scam advertising scheme and stopped it from progressing to the point where I gave them anything let alone money.

If you have an elderly relative you may educate them (read insist) that if they ever get a phone call from ANYONE who asks them to do ANYTHING with their computer they SIMPLY HANG UP and CALL YOU.

"You" become their interlock. It may sound bothersome but it is less painful than being out of pocket by thousands of dollars.

You can even test this interlock by ringing them up and posing the situation.

This helps reinforce fading memories and helps reassure you that your loved ones are better protected than otherwise.

Maybe you create a rule that you only use one computer for online banking and purchases and another computer for "everything else".

In that way you'll be automatically warned when someone or something tries to make you spend money on the computer that is NOT for that.

It is a way of put a break / brake on the process and giving you time to think.

A big part of this is just stopping and choosing to do things on your terms and NOT anyone (ANYONE) else's.

Realistically these interlocks are going to be as varied as the people reading this post.

You can and will come up with the methods that suit you best.

Maybe have someone test them with you to be sure. It may not be easy or obvious to everyone how to go about creating an effective interlock.

Of course this won't stop the fraudsters trying and it won't completely stop them from succeeding every now and then...just, hopefully, not with you or anyone you care about.

Take care and put your keys in the fridge...and your credit cards and...


P.S. There's actually good reason to put your car keys in the fridge even when at home now. Read this https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4436540/Put-car-keys-fridge-freeze-thieves.html

Take care and have fun. Stay safe.

* the jacket was at home and in the wardrobe. It had been all along despite months of searching.

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