Friday, February 27, 2015

Are You Cyber-Prepared?

Nearly every day, there is another news story about a business that fell victim to a cyber-attack.  Recently, security experts revealed that cyber criminals stole up to one billion dollars in a single organized attack on 50 banks. In 2014, the total number of information security incidents increased by 48% from 2013 and the FBI predicts that the number of attacks will grow exponentially in coming years.  They now consider cyber threats to be among their top priorities.

Most cyber attacks take advantage of computer users doing mundane, day-to-day tasks such as reading emails, clicking links, and downloading files.  So, at home and in the work place, we each need to be vigilant and we need to see ourselves as the first line of defense against these attacks.

Take steps now to prevent cyber attacks and be prepared to deal with the consequences.  Here are some basic tips.

1.   Update.  Update your passwords.  Update your security settings.  Update your software.  This might be another thing to add to your to-do list when we change our clocks in the spring and fall.

2.   Backup.  Make electronic backups of, at least, your most critical information.  Make hard copy backups of essential documents and other media.

3.   Practice safe surfing.  For example:

·     Only connect to the Internet over secure, password-protected networks.
  • Do not click on links or pop-ups, open attachments, or respond to emails from strangers.
  • Do not respond to online requests for personal information.  Most organizations – banks, universities, companies, etc. – do not ask for your personal information over the Internet.
  • Password protect all devices that connect to the Internet and user accounts.
Those are the very basics.  There may be other steps you need to take depending on the type of computer user you are.  For example, do you use social media a lot?  Do you use mobile devices?  Do you do a lot of shopping or banking on the Internet?  You should research additional steps based on the specific ways that you use computers.  

Here are some additional resources:

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