Let's be Cyber-Secure

Let's be Cyber-Secure

- A cautionary tale -

Hi team,

How's life?

I'm pleased that many of you enjoyed reading about Brenda's investigation into Bio-Acetate. Thank you also to those who reached out re: LUXTRA's fundraising. We're making really exciting progress on some cool projects (and not in ways you might think!)… can't wait to tell you more.

Chloé and I are also super happy to announce that we've launched an updated version of our website. It's a big improvement on the previous version - please do take a look and let us know if you find any bugs or arrive at any 404 messages! Thanks so much in advance 😊

On a different note, today we're talking fraud, scams and cyber security.

As life gets tougher, we can expect fraud and crime to increase. Be aware!

I was almost scammed on the phone last week by someone pretending to be calling from my bank. I like to think I'm pretty savvy, when it comes to these types of things, but I guess it was a good reality check. He started by building trust, alerting me to a fraudulent £1,700 transaction (that he himself had put through) and making sure I “rejected” the payment request. I was relieved he has saved me from the “fraud” and thus trusted him. When I started to question why I needed to do other things, he had an answer for everything. The guy eventually hung up on me when I said I didn't feel comfortable transferring money from one account to another. If this happens to you, just say you'll call them back.

This is the third incident of this type I've experienced in the past month. The first was someone stealing my phone from under my nose in a Pret-A-Manger (a sandwich shop chain) in central London… I whacked her when I realised my phone was no longer in front of me, and grabbed it as it fell to the ground. I was very shaken.

The second was my Mum's bag being stolen from under her feet in Madrid, and the third was the phone scam above. The phone scam guy had my address and everything - and I only moved 2 months ago 😟. To top it off, just yesterday I bumped into my a neighbour and he said the night before he'd seen some men down the side of my building the previous evening. Yikes.

I was the only mug in Pret that evening who wasn't glued to their phone.
Serves me right! lol

All this to say that I'm not feeling super safe these days.

I'm all about silver linings though, so it's been a good wake up call to make sure I am prepared and taking pro-active measures to make sure both LUXTRA and I are as secure as we can be online.

I therefore wanted to share a few of the precautions I've taken vis-a-vis online security, so you too can benefit. For things like phones and bags being stolen - it's about being hyper vigilant and zipping your bags (I'm even more grateful now that our totes have top zips. Win!). I now sit on the handle or strap of my bags when I'm sitting down in public - that way I'll know if it moves!

For some of you, the following tips will be super obvious. If that's the case, feel free to skip today's newsletter and I'll catch you next week. For everyone else (like me!) hopefully the following will be useful.

The Firewall

One of the simplest steps is turning on your computer's firewall. Firewalls are there to prevent unauthorised access to your computer by inspecting incoming and outgoing traffic using a set of rules to identify and block threats (read more here if you're interested).

If you're on a Mac, follow these steps. For Windows users, the steps are here.

Done ✅

Feels great, doesn't it?


I always associated VPNs with streaming movies in the USA, but I've learned that a VPN is absolutely E-S-S-E-N-T-I-A-L if, like me, you're out and about using public wifi networks. The team and I work in different spots around London (hotel lobbies, cultural centres, coffee shops, co-working spaces) and we connect to their (i.e. public) wifis. Without a VPN, we're basically sitting ducks.

I asked around my more knowledgable friends and they recommended ExpressVPN. It's not free but it's quite a reasonable price to pay for peace of mind. Plus it's simple to install. Here's a link for 30 days free.

2FA is your friend (yes, really)

2 Factor Authentication (a.k.a. 2 Step Verification / 2 Step Authentication) requires you to use 2 forms of authentication to prove your identity. It usually involves something you know (e.g. a password) PLUS something you have (i.e. a one time password sent to your phone).

It's a bit of a pain, yes, but every time I use 2FA I feel that much safer. We've now set up 2FA on all the software we use. I strongly recommend you do the same. There are also settings on some software (like Slack) that automatically log you out after a few hours. Again, I recommend.

The Authenticator App

Linked to the above, I now using the Google Authenticator App (click here for the Google Play store and here for the Apple App store) which offers an alternative to receiving an SMS with a one time security code. Apparently an Authenticator app is more secure than receiving a text message (more on that here, if you're interested).

The Google Authenticator App isn't just for Google accounts - you can use it lots of other software, such as Slack.

Password protection

You're still with me? Amazing. Gold star for you ⭐

The final point for today is password protection.

A few years ago I tried 1password. I found it hard to use (no doubt my fault), but this time around we're using LastPass, and I'm flying.

Having passwords stored in “clear text” is a big no-no (thanks P). Whoops.

Clear text basically means your passwords are written in full (unencrypted) somewhere, whether it's a Notes app, handwritten on a piece of paper, or in some other type of document. To be secure, you either need to memorise your passwords or store them somewhere encrypted. NEVER written out in plain text.

Again, it's a bit of a pain to transfer all my passwords to LastPass and then to access them via LastPass every time I want to log in to something. But every time I do I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing how much more secure we are.
Bindi pic of the week


You made it! Thanks for sticking with me.

I just want to reiterate how important these pro-active steps are. In my opinion, the effort and the small monthly fees are well worth the feeling of relief, knowing that I'm taking steps to protect myself and LUXTRA.

If you're starting out like me, I know it's a lot and might feel a bit daunting. But how about doing just one small action a day? You'll be on your way in no time.

Be well, be safe, and thanks for reading,

LUXTRA Founder | Cyber-Security Whizz* | Plant Parent



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