What You Should Know About Cyber Security

In Category: Security Tips

cyber securityIn case you didn’t know, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month as well as National Home Security Awareness Month. In honor of recognizing both of these, we have put together some helpful resources for you now in September and for next month in October to keep you informed about security.

In this article we will talk about cyber security. Staying safe online is something you should do every time you log on.  Each year tens of millions of people like you have their identities stolen, credit ruined, computers hacked, and bank accounts drained from cyber thieves.

Don’t let this happen to you or your family. Here are a few some tips and warnings to keep you and your information safe online.

 

It’s time to change your password.

Have you noticed that lately when your computer or one of your online accounts prompts you to change your password, that it has to meet what seems like some crazy requirements? You have to include at least one number, uppercase letter, or even a special character. Or you might even have to make sure your new password is between 7-20 characters long all while trying to come up with something you can remember but also meets the password strength requirement. As annoying as these requirements can be, it is all an attempt to keep your information safe.

According to credit company,Trans Union, 9.9 million people fall victim to identity theft each year.  

Our advice – Don’t wait until you’re prompted to change your password. Make it a part of your routine to change your password every month or two and be sure to not use the same password across multiple accounts. Also, don’t forget to beef it up even when you’re not required to do so. The harder the password, the more difficult it will be to hack.

 

Is that site SSL encrypted?

A SSL encryption ensures that any data passed between your browser and the website’s server stays private. This is important when making payments online or entering other sensitive data. Simply put, SSL encryption makes it harder for hackers to get your information. Most e-commerce websites have this but a couple of ways you can make sure is to look up at the address bar to see if it has “https” – the “s” stands for “secure” – or just look for the padlock or checkmark icon that’s typically located at the bottom of the secured page.

 

Log out of your online sessions.

When you’re handling your business online – managing your bank account or making a payment on your credit card – always be sure to log out. We know you’re busy and probably multi-tasking but if you forget to logout as soon as you’re done, you’re making yourself vulnerable to hackers. Luckily, most of these types of websites are SSL encrypted and will automatically log you out if you’ve been sitting idle for too long. But then again that may take 5-10 minutes, which is more than enough time for a hacker to steal your precious information.

 

Clear your browser’s cookies and cache.

Every time you browse the internet, your computer stores files and information (cookies) in it’s cache. This stored information could be your username, address, social security number, credit card number, or anything that you’ve entered while being online. Make it a habit to clear your cookies and cache weekly or even daily. Some browsers have an option in the settings that will let you set it to automatically clear your browsing data each time you log off.

 

Keep your anti-virus software current.

Is your anti-virus software up to date? This is the most important software you have on your computer. Not having this installed or letting it expire without renewing will leave your computer open to all sorts of vulnerabilities. Simple things such as plugging in a USB stick to get a file can become very risky because there’s a chance that you will unknowingly download a virus. With an active antivirus software installed, something as simple as using USB stick will be less risky because the software will promptly notify you that something is wrong.

 

Prevent social engineering from happening to you.

This doesn’t happen often, but it happens often enough that it is an issue to take note of. Social engineering, or also called social hacking, is a different type of cyber threat in that your information isn’t hacked in the traditional sense. Instead, it involves having a conversation with the hacker himself!

Social hacking is when someone manipulates you into giving them confidential information or doing something that breaks a security procedure.

This is more common in a work environment. For example, let’s say you’re sitting at your desk at work and the phone rings. It’s someone from IT asking for the password to your computer so they can do a software upgrade that your supervisor has requested for everyone in the department. Without hesitation, you give it to them and go on about your day. A few days later a company wide email goes out to warn that hackers have been calling local companies claiming to be from their IT department and were getting sensitive company information over the phone by simply asking employees for their passwords, user names, and other data.  You can’t help but wonder if you fell victim to a social engineering hack and possibly exposed your entire company to a security breach.

Phone calls like this happen every day because we trust that the person on the other end is who they say they are, especially when at the job. Bottom line, ask questions and verify. If it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t.

Remember, each year tens of millions of people fall victim to some type of cyber crime. By being more aware and following the few tips and warnings we’ve laid out for you, hopefully you won’t be one of them.