Just one quick click on a malicious email link can jeopardize an identity and create havoc. The good news is there are measures to protect yourself and/or business from cyber threats.
This article was originally released on the Milford Daily News website and can be reached by clicking here.
Hackers, viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware – there seems to be no end to the dangers threatening our computers, networks and ultimately our wallets and even reputations. Just one quick click on a malicious email link can jeopardize an identity and create havoc. The good news is there are measures to protect yourself and/or business from cyber threats.
First and foremost, use strong passwords and change them periodically. The second most important guideline is don’t use a password that is the same or similar to one you use on any other websites. If that organization suffers a breach and your password becomes compromised, hackers will start to use that password to try to access your other accounts such as email, social media, banking, etc. A complex password should be an 8-15-character mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters. Regular changes will help prevent what is known as brute force cracks, a trial and error method where an application program tries to decode a password.
Another step to keep yourself secure is Multi-Factor Authentication or (MFA) as it is widely referred to. This simply means something that you have (cell phone), and something you know (password). This type of authentication service is available from most commercial websites and companies and it makes it extremely difficult for an unauthorized user to access your information because they would need physical custody of your cell phone along with your password to get to your information.
A good habit to develop when you walk away from your computer is to lock your screen. If you are a Windows user press the Windows key and the L key. This will lock your workstation and you will have to use a password to log back in. (The Windows key is on the lower left part of the keyboard sandwiched between the Ctrl and the Alt key.) If you are a Mac user, go to the Apple menu and choose Lock Screen or press Command+Control+Q. This will lock your Mac and return you to the Login screen.
Install a quality anti-virus software program that runs regular updates to keep on top of new viruses; the same for anti-spyware and anti-malware software too. This multi-layered approach to securing a computer system is imperative.
Viruses, spyware and malware are continually evolving, with new dangers appearing daily. Here is why it is so critical to perform daily full system scans via installed software. Scans can find, quarantine and remove malicious agents in a network before any or further damage is done.
Creating a periodic backup schedule via a personal computer is a sound way to ensure precious data is retrievable should something go amiss with a workplace system. Using a cloud service is one great backup option; however, these solutions must be tested at least monthly. You don’t want to find out in a disaster that your computer has not been backing up on a regular basis.
It’s smart to regularly run computer system updates; companies like Microsoft provide periodic updates to their software to repair any bugs or abnormalities. Best not to leave these updates on the table; allow them as soon as they are released to better protect your system against exploitation by hackers.
Take advantage of your computer’s built-in firewall; it acts as a perimeter around your computer and blocks unauthorized incoming and outgoing access.
It may go without saying but it must be said! Use email and the Internet with caution. Never open or read emails from unfamiliar addresses. Delete them from your inbox immediately. When using the Internet, be aware that even the seemingly safest site can contain spyware and malware. One click of the mouse could infect your system. Keep in mind that many websites are camouflaged to look like the real deal, so when entering URLs check the name of the website and make certain its spelling is correct.
And one final piece of advice – avoid clicking on popups, ads, graphics and links to other websites. Be safe, not sorry.