Early Autumn is a good time to think about scary things, not just Halloween or even Election Day; October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Not just for this month, but throughout the year, we need to have a focus on protecting our data and systems. Hackers are now more than just hobbyists and they are becoming more organized with attacks becoming more sophisticated. We are all targets for hackers and need to have a mindset of when, not just if, someone will target me or my computer.
The following are some items to remember when interfacing with the cyber world:
• We need to have good password practices by using a strong mix of upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols. And of course, the longer a password the stronger it is. Sixteen characters, or more, is what we should strive for.
• Always be cautious with attachments or links in an email. If the email is not from someone you know, or if it looks suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it. Double-check the address of the website the link will take you to: bad guys will often use web addresses that are similar to, but different from legitimate sites. For example, rnicrosoft.com looks similar to microsoft.com, the former could be a fake site that will try to trick you into revealing your password.
• Back up your data regularly, not only because of concerns over equipment failure, but because ransomware can cripple an organization. Having safe copies of data can turn such attacks from being catastrophic to just an inconvenience.
• Make sure your anti-virus software is always up to date. Windows Defender is more than adequate and comes with Windows 7 & 10.
• Make sure your systems, to include applications, are patched regularly to greatly reduce ways attackers can compromise your system. Hackers know that once new attacks are created, that it is only a matter of time before fixes are released. So it is important to update your software as soon as possible to minimize the window in which your system can be compromised.
• Don’t use the same password for multiple sites and don’t share your passwords with others and definitely don’t write them down and keep them near your computer. That would be a scary thing to do.
In conclusion, let’s remember that not just for these ‘scary’ 31 days of the month, but for all 365 of the year, of the importance of good cyber practices to keep ourselves and our systems protected from the ghouls and goblins on the Internet.
Work with us to adopt the best cybersecurity practices.