By Tim Wortman (Vice President of Operations, Central Region)
With the holidays upon us, cyber thieves are just waiting for the opportunity to steal information and destroy your good name and credit. In today’s world of frequent computer use and constant connectivity, dangers are lurking around every corner of the web – untrusted website, unknown email, or an unsecured online payment. It is always best to take necessary precautions by having good cyber security habits.
What is cyber security and why should we know about it? Kaspersky Lab defines it as the practice of defending computers and servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks and data from malicious attacks.
Malware, spyware, scareware, and ransomware are just some of the names given to malicious software that a person might easily pick up from just a few downloads from untrusted sites. Without some protection from these potential threats, it is only a matter of time before you could be a victim of internet fraud, cyber extortion, identity theft, or malware.
What can you do to protect yourself from cyber crimes? Here are six things you can do:
1. Start with Virus protection for your computer.
A good virus protection software is designed to prevent viruses, worms, and Trojan horses from getting into your computer, as well as remove any malicious software code that has already infected a computer. Most virus protection utilities now bundle anti-spyware and anti-malware capabilities to go along with anti-virus protection. Look for one that often updates and has good customer reviews.
2.Don’t open attachments of emails from someone you do not know.
Be wary of emails with attachments and emails from people that you do not know. If Prince Hassan is sending you a million dollars because he is a supposedly a long-lost relative, it most likely is a phishing scheme to get you to provide your personal information. Delete it and move on. The best thing to do with a suspicious attachment is to leave it unopened and send the email to the trash.
3.Use a password keeper app.
Anyone who uses the internet at any frequency is going to have passwords to some websites. It is never a good idea to make them all the same or write them down. A password app utilizing a master password can keep all your passwords and allows you into the dashboard to see the information. You can also install extension onto your browser to pre-populate the information when you go to the login page of the website you are visiting. Using the create a password feature provides secure passwords almost impossible to crack.
4.Use strong passwords.
Passwords are the only thing that stands between your information and a hacker. Making it easy and obvious is the last thing that you want to do. On the other hand, you do not want it so hard that you will forget it. Most companies have an acceptable password policy so that employees can follow a standard format for password creation like the one below.
Use a minimum of 8 characters. (The more characters the, the better)
Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols
Change the password regularly
Do not use the same password for different websites
5.Utilize account notifications to let you know when things have changed.
Many websites today have features that let you find out when it makes changes. It is very easy to set up notifications so that you can monitor these changes to see if it is one that you have done. The real-time notifications will give the opportunity to remedy any cyber security breach into your online account.
6.Keep a hardcopy listing of your passwords for backup purposes only.
Should you ever lose your computer and or cell phone, or forget your password to your password keeper, a printed backup is your last resort to gain your access to all of your online accounts. Keep it in a secure lockbox or safe and regularly update it to reflect the most recent passwords.
By following these tips, you will be ahead of the cyber thieves at every turn.