Our Information Age has greatly transformed our lives, but like every technological panacea, there’s a downside. Easy access to information also means the need to protect that information from “cyber criminals”.
Network administrators are constantly struggling to lock down network access and protect sensitive data, and it’s a daunting task – high profile data breaches affect about half of the residents in California, according to a recent report.
Just as disruptive to businesses are infections from viruses, worms, and ransomware.
Even with every technological tool in place to mitigate these threats, it’s important that computers users become aware of how their actions can help prevent infection. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Use Strong Passwords
Hackers use tools that can automatically and quickly try passwords to access your computer, and through it, all the systems you access to do your work. The more complex the password, the less likely these hackers can “brute-force” their way in. Passwords should be at least 8 characters in length, and be a mixture of upper and lower case alpha characters, numerals, and “special” characters. Do not use combinations that obviously connect to you, like your name, address, birthday, etc.
Be a Cynical Email User
Many of the latest threats require some action by a user to enable the malware – these are often links in emails, or attachments. Business email tends to have a look and feel that is familiar, so be suspicious of any email that’s unexpected, or out of the ordinary. Be very careful about launching attachments – malware can be hidden in all kinds of files. Cryptolocker, a notorious Ransomware, often was hidden in an apparent PDF file attachment to an email that looked like it came from UPS. If you want to track a shipment, go to the carrier’s website to do so.
Be a Cynical Web User
Be aware that some websites are infected with Malware that may be launched when you visit them. Avoid reaching websites via links in email – they don’t always go where they seem to pointing. Be as cynical as you are with email – if a company’s website looks “wrong” somehow, don’t click on any links there, and doublecheck the URL – by a Google search, or even calling the company.
This always boils down to developing habits that involve situational awareness. Try not to lose sight of the fact that threats do exist, and look before you leap. You will develop a sense of what looks right and what looks suspicious – and in doing so perhaps save yourself and your company a lot of trouble!
Clare Computer Solutions has helped many companies “lock down” their networks against a variety of threats – we can help you, too. Contact us today to have the first conversation towards a more secure IT environment.