We’ve got more juicy tips for you to keep in mind (and maybe even employ) as you work and go about your life online. As always, we’re here to help if you have any questions or concerns.
Tip #1: Keep your apps updated on your personal devices
Help Desk Cavalry keeps your work devices updated and secure, but you can still be vulnerable to attacks through your personal ones. According to Homeland Security’s cyber-emergency unit, US-CERT, 85% of all targeted attacks can be prevented by staying current on security patches. This article from How-To Geek (a very well-known online tech blog site) has a great step by step guide on keeping Windows and third party apps udpated.
Tip #2: Passwords, passwords, passwords
Since this is one of the most key pieces of advice any specialist can share, we feel it’s important to repeat ourselves a bit. So don’t be surprised if you run into this one in our other blogs. Simply put: Never, ever (ever, ever) reuse passwords. Another tip is that if the password is too complicated to be remembered, it’s less likely to be crackable. Interested in seeing how secure your passwords are? Just plug one into this handy online tool and see how quickly a computer could figure it out. Not sure how to create a super secure password? There are a some great password generators out there like LastPass or Norton Password Generator. Can’t remember your passwords? Who can? Use a password manager like one of these PCMag recommended ones.
Tip #3: Be aware of social engineering tactics
This tactic is becoming more and more popular with cyber criminals because their hook is offering or asking for help. According to Wikipedia, social engineering as it pertains to the concept of information security is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. Let’s give two examples of real life experiences:
At home (or at work): Someone who identifies themselves as from your bank calls to get your banking password for one reason or another. They insist you use a link they provide. This link is monitored by the imposter and then used to access your accounts.
At work: Someone who identifies themselves as working with a contractor your company employs needs private company information that grants access into your system. They hang up the phone, log in, and get all the data they can find.
In both cases and in any similar to them, the only response that’s appropriate is “NO.” If you think someone is trying to gain access to your work systems or accounts, let your administrator know immediately.
Tip #4: Everyone and every device is a target for ransomware
Ransomware is one of the scariest types of attacks, since the name says it all: Malicious software is accidentally downloaded and it holds your data for ransom. The thieves demand a payment (usually between $200 – $500) before they will unlock all of the data on your device (like giving you the decryption key). But fortunately there are many things you can do to protect yourself while warding off would-be attackers.
- Backup your personal data to the cloud and in multiple locations if possible
- Keep vital personal information copied in multiple locations (like backed up in the cloud)
- Remember to stay unzipped! Do not click or open .zip attachments in emails from unknown senders
- Don’t click links in emails from unknown senders
- Keep your OS and apps up to date at all times (see Tip #1)
- Use a reliable antivirus on your personal devices
Of course, there are also products on the market that can cover you beyond these measures. If you’re interested in paying for heightened protection on your personal devices, spend a little time researching online. PCMag makes it easy with their top 20 list.
Tip #5: Occasionally glance through the federal government’s list of current online scams and frauds
The US government watches trends so it can warn citizens of popular scams and frauds. For instance, since many people and companies are utilizing the government’s stimulus incentives during COVID-19, new scams rose along with the financial support. Just being aware of the creative new ways that attackers are using situational opportunities can help you defend yourself, so bookmark the page and take a look every few months. To read up on other scams, check out our blog.