Security Tip of the Day

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.