Malicious individuals are after your personal data and identity for their own use. A security breach impacts individuals, organizations and communities. When online, keep this in mind: stop, think and connect.
Stop for a moment. Think before acting. Connect responsibly.
Phishing: Phishing attacks use email or malicious web sites to solicit personal, often financial, information. Attackers may send email, seemingly from a reputable credit card company or financial institution, which requests account information, often suggesting that there is a problem. When users respond with the requested information, attackers can use it to gain access to the accounts. Employees should know not to open messages or attachments from unknown sources. Employees should also be instructed about your company’s spam filters and how to use them to prevent unwanted, dangerous email.
Spyware Download: The words “spyware” and “adware” can be confusing, because they’re used to describe many different technologies. The two important things to know about spyware and adware programs is that 1) they can download themselves onto your computer without your permission when you visit an unsafe Web site or download an application you want and spyware is attached and 2) they can make your computer do things you don’t want it to do.
Sometimes that might be as simple as opening an advertisement or pop-up you didn’t want to see. In the worst cases, spyware can track your online movements, log your keystrokes (steal your passwords and compromise your accounts), and send copies of emails and other documents to third parties.
Social Media: The speed and visibility of social media makes for a fun experience and great entertainment, but it also creates an opportunity to embarrass yourself or others, jeopardize your employment or, worse still, compromise your safety or your identity. It is ultimately up to you to manage your digital identity on social media sites.
Connected Devices: Your company should have clear rules for what employees can install and keep on their work computers. Make sure they understand these rules and abide by them. Unknown outside programs can open security vulnerabilities in your network.
Update Alerts: Keeping your computer updated and patched will provide an additional layer of security for your system, and your personal data. Using out-of-date or defective software can leave your computer open to infection or attack, so it is essential to be vigilant in the update process.
Each computer runs on a specific operating system (OS) that houses the vital components that allows your computer to work. The three most well-known operating systems are Windows XP and Vista, Macintosh OS X and Linux. Much like the specific programs your computer runs, online criminals and hackers launch specific attacks against computer operating systems for personal gain.
In order to keep step with these types of attacks, OS manufacturers issue regular updates (or “patches”) that fix specific problems or vulnerabilities in the OS. These updates are primarily “pushed” to the computer user, meaning the computer automatically receives and downloads those fixes.
Password Protection: Choosing the right sorts of passwords, changing them routinely and keeping them under wraps are among the easiest and most effective things your employees can do to protect your data. Use startup passwords to prevent thieves from easily accessing your data. Make sure to choose a strong password that would not be easy to guess. Drawing a blank on what to use? Consider a favorite saying or line from a song and use the first letter of each word. Adding capital letters and/or numbers will help to strengthen the password even more.
Physical Protection of Devices: A minor distraction is all it takes for your laptop to vanish. If it does, you may lose more than an expensive piece of hardware. The fact is, if your data protections aren’t up to par, that sensitive and valuable information in your laptop may be a magnet for an identity thief.