Security Tip of the Day

Don’t put yourself in danger by updating social media and sharing while you are away from home. Wait until you get back. By revealing such specifics while you’re gone, you are providing information that could be used by criminals to break into your house.

Another common scam involves individuals going away on vacation and having their email accounts compromised by cyber-criminals who contact the person’s friends or family with requests for help, claiming that the person was robbed in a foreign country while on vacation and needs money.

ATM skimmers are devices that criminals place over or on ATM machines to steal your card information, including your personal identification number (PIN). While the tricks used by these thieves can be complicated, there are a handful of simple methods to properly protect your financial information.

Choose ATMs Wisely

Look for ones that are within bank perimeters, well lighted, and/or on busy streets. If possible, try to always use the same ATM, since it will be easier to identify abnormalities.

It’s important to erase all personal information from old computers before disposing of them.

Simply reformatting a hard drive or reinstalling the operating system does not guarantee the old data is unreadable. Physically destroy the hard drive or use a special “wipe” program. These programs, such as Active@KillDisk and Dban, are free and meet governmental security standards.

Safeguarding your business and personal data has never been more difficult or more important. How do you safeguard sensitive/confidential data? The manner of protection often depends on what kind of data you are safeguarding and how important or sensitive it is to you, your organization, or your customers.

Here are some tips on how to protect your data at work and at home.

Password-Protect Your Access

Always use a strong password or pass-phrase to protect access to your data.

In simplest terms, cloud computing is a subscription-based or free service where you can obtain networked storage space and other computer resources through an Internet access. While these systems may remove the need for owning physical components, they also introduce new risks to your information.

Before you float your digital assets to the cloud, make sure you take the appropriate steps to protect yourself.

Cyber-criminals can (and do) take advantage of vulnerabilities on every operating system, including Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, and distributions of Linux. No matter which operating system you use, be sure to keep up with the latest security patches. In addition to operating system patches, be on the lookout for updates to other software you use, including web browsers (such as Chrome or Safari), add-ons, and applications (such as Adobe Reader).

Billions of people use the Internet every single day, and knowing how to stay safe while using it is vital. Always be sure to verify the sites you visit on the Internet. A certain amount of information (such as your IP address and domain name) is automatically sent when you connect. Websites can also track the pages you visit, determine the version of your browser and operating system, and even compromise files and passwords.

There are many free services available today. You can store pictures in the cloud, develop documents, send email, and connect with people – all without spending a dime.

“Cyber ethics” refers to the code of responsible behavior on the Internet. Just as we are taught to act responsibly in everyday life with lessons such as “Don’t take what doesn’t belong to you” and “Do not harm others,” we must act responsibly in the cyber world as well.

The basic rule is “Do not do something in cyberspace that you would consider wrong or illegal in everyday life.”

Passwords are a major defense against hackers, and developing good password practices will help keep your sensitive personal information and identity more secure.

We’ve all seen the pop-up windows telling us that our computer is infected with a virus or other malware. Don’t be fooled; the real malware could be the free software and/or free offer to fix your PC.

Oftentimes the ads and warnings are fake and will cause damage to your PC and to the security of your personal information. Fake software can install malware and obtain personal information from your PC and send it to the bad guys.

Tips to Better Secure Your Wireless Network

  • Change your network name and the default password.
  • Encrypt the data on your network.
  • Make sure your firewall is running.
  • Disable guest networks.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi Protected Setup.

For more information:

Using a public wi-fi network not only puts your personal devices at risk, but also exposes your traffic to everyone else using the same network. Cyber-criminals can potentially access any information you provide, such as credit card numbers, confidential information, or passwords. If a public wi-fi network is your only option, consider following the tips listed below to help keep you secure.

Information can easily be lost or compromised due to an equipment malfunction, an error, or a virus. Schedule automatic backups of your information on a regular basis and take advantage of cloud services.

Backups also help identify what has been changed or lost. If your computer has been infected, it is important to remove the infection before resuming your work. Save some older backups, because if your computer gets infected, some of your backups may also be compromised.

You don’t need fame or millions of dollars in the bank to become the victim of cybercrime. Many cyber-criminals rely on automated attacks that seek out and compromise all vulnerable systems. Once a system is compromised, it can be used to distribute malware, send spam, or help launch a denial of service attack. Cyber-criminals may also lift personal data from vulnerable systems to use for identity theft and fraud.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) networking is a popular method for sharing files, music, photographs, and other information. Just remember that this method can come with its share of major risks. It is better knowing who you are sharing data and files with versus browsing for a site that you believe meets your criteria. The data may be corrupted with malware or expose you to legal ramifications (e.g., copyright infringement or pirated software or music). Be safe and know what is offered before you load a copy onto your device.

Scammers keep developing new tricks to try to snag money from users, and the newer types of tricks involve the use of ransomware. The scammers infect vulnerable machines through the use of a computer virus, which locks the computer (and files) and demands a payment for its release. These forms of viruses also try to coerce the user into paying a false fine by mimicking local police or security services.

It’s important to secure all portable devices to protect both the device and the information contained on the device.

With the increased volume of online shopping, it’s important that consumers understand the potential security risks and know how to protect themselves and their information.

After you have installed an anti-virus and/or anti-spyware package, you should scan your entire computer periodically. If your anti-virus package has the ability to automatically scan specific files or directories and prompt you at set intervals to perform complete scans, enable this feature.

Laptops have become a vital tool for both business and personal use, and the portability of laptops makes them extremely convenient. However, we should always be aware of the security risks from the loss or theft of laptops and take proper precautions. The potential loss is twofold: the loss of the laptop itself, and the loss of any personal, private, or sensitive information that it contains.

Laptops can easily be stolen from the locked trunk of a car, at an airport security checkpoint, at an Internet cafe, or even from a hotel room.

When visiting unknown websites, be vigilant about protecting your identity. Remember that some information is automatically made visible to the site. Information such as the computer’s IP address, domain name (e.g., .com, .gov, or .edu), software details, and page visit information is often saved in cookies so that the organization may develop and store user profiles of website visitors. If a website uses cookies, the organization may be able to collect even more information, such as your browsing patterns, which include other sites you’ve visited.

Rogue software, or “scareware,” is fake antivirus or security software. Bad guys usually try to get you to install it by generating a pop-up window as you surf the web. The “updates” or “alerts” in the pop-up windows call for you to take some sort of action, such as clicking to install the software, accept recommended updates, or remove unwanted viruses or spyware. When you click, the rogue security software downloads to your computer.

With major data breaches being reported all too frequently, organizations are now placing increased emphasis on the security of personal, private, and sensitive information. One method of increasing security is through data encryption. Encryption is the process of scrambling a message or data so that no one but the sender and the intended recipient can read it.

Never share your personal information with just anyone.

Your Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. So every time you are asked for your personal information – whether in a webform, an email, a text, or a phone message – think about whether you can really trust the request. In an effort to steal your information, scammers will do everything they can to appear trustworthy.

 

Now that we are into tax season, scammers are looking to steal tax documents, file fraudulent returns in victims’ names, and extort payment with false threats of IRS action due to outstanding tax bills. Here are a few tips on avoiding these schemes.

File your taxes as early as you can

By filing your taxes early, scammers aiming to use your personal information to file a fraudulent return in your name will be unable to do so. They can’t file if you beat them to it!

 

Any website can be compromised, so stick with reputable online stores, news, and entertainment sites.

Be sure to check the status bar at the bottom of your browser before clicking a link to make sure you are being directed to the intended site.