Hackers today are motivated by different things. Profit, destruction, theft, or even just boredom. They use many methods, such as phishing emails and websites, spreading malware, ransomware (which can get expensive), and more. The importance of security is higher than ever as we do business more and more in the cloud and using digital devices. Here are a few recommendations for you to consider employing in your day-to-day work and personal life to stay safe from digital crime.
Avoid Clicking on Emails You Are Not Expecting or that Ask for Sensitive Information
Phishing is the #1 method hackers use to gain your info, and they are getting better and better at it every day. If an email looks suspicious, it probably is.
Back Up Your Info and Data
It’s super easy to do with the cloud. If you do not have a backup strategy, you need one! We can help!
Use Strong Passwords (Not 'password123')
Avoid using your name, birth date, or other personal information in your passwords. This makes it even easier for hackers if they collect this info surreptitiously. Many experts recommend using phrases (i.e. I Like to Secure My Applications = IL2SMA) or random characters and symbols.
Change Up Your Passwords
As tempting as it is to use the same password for everything, once a digital criminal gains that password, it’s game over for everything else. It’s important to use differing passwords for different applications and websites. If you have trouble remembering them all, think about using something like KeePass or LastPass to encrypt and manage multiple passwords securely.
This means a site or application requires more than one way to access your account information. For example, with many banks or other financial sites, when you log in you will put in a password THEN a four-six digit code that is sent to you via text to ensure that it is indeed you who has requested access. If you receive a code via text and you did not request it, this should set off your alarm bells!
Do Not Ignore Updates to Systems and Software
Most companies who prompt you to update your system or software are doing so because they’ve released critical patches and security updates they want you to have. Set your update schedule to automatically update after-hours (while still locking devices) to ensure these upgrades are not disruptive to your daily life but still applied to your systems and software.
Use Secure Wireless Connections
You might like the vibe at Starbucks, but so do hackers! This tip is especially useful if you are working remotely, but it’s important that your company’s Wi-Fi access is password protected. If not, this is a major red flag for security!
Use Anti-Virus Tools and Keep Them On!
If you are getting warnings that your anti-virus software subscription is out of date, you need to contact your IT provider (whether it’s us or someone else) immediately. Anti-virus is a proactive service that allows you to detect when something is not right with your computer’s health. Turning it off would be like ignoring the doctor's orders then being surprised when your health gets worse!
Lock Down Devices When You Leave
Even if your device grows legs, if there’s a secure password associated with it there’s a much better chance you can protect your (and often your company’s) private data. Not doing so can mean a huge hassle, or worse!
Using these techniques will reduce your risk from getting hacked. They will NOT remove them entirely. It's so important these days to practice "defensive driving" while using technology and the Internet. It's still very much the Wild West when it comes to the transmission of data, and any time you fall asleep at the wheel hackers will take advantage of you. While devastating for your personal life, it can be downright disastrous if this happens to you on company time. Be safe, be vigilant, and be smart! Let us help you today if you feel you might be exposed to hacking and identify theft.