Since the holiday known for “Trick or Treat” is upon us, Ethixa thought it appropriate to treat everyone to some internet security recommendations that can help prevent being tricked. It seems that every week, a new internet security breach is being mentioned on the news with personal information, passwords, and credit card numbers being stolen from millions of people. While there is no way to guarantee perfect security, there are a few simple steps you can take to minimize risk and protect your business and personal information.
Use complex passwords or passphrases – they should include uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, and symbols (this makes the password more difficult to guess or crack)
Change passwords often – at least every 60 days (this reduces the time a password could be vulnerable)
Use a different password for each website or service (this prevents a stolen password from being used to access other accounts)
Do not click on emailed links. If provided with an email link, such as one from UPS or a bank, visit the website manually. (This prevents being exposed to phishing scams and fake websites)
Be wary of email attachments. If you receive an unexpected attachment, verify it with the sender before opening it. (Email attachments can contain viruses or malware and can appear to come from your contacts)
Make certain to have reputable, up-to-date, and active antivirus software on your computer. Symantec, Norton, Avast, Sophos, and Trend Micro all offer inexpensive and/or free versions of their software.
Make certain to have a reputable and up-to-date firewall on your computer or network. While most business networks have hardware firewalls to provide protection, additional software protection is recommended in your home. Many antivirus packages come with firewall software as part of the package or offer packages that include a firewall.
Run scans with anti-malware software, such as Malwarebytes, on a regular basis to supplement your antivirus software.
Avoid random and/or disreputable links. (Malware and viruses can be hidden on websites)
Keep your computer and web browser(s) up to do date. (Many system and browser updates are for the purpose of patching security vulnerabilities)
Backup your data! Protect your data from a hardware failure or hack by maintaining current backups. (There is a new type of malware that encrypts your data and will not allow it to be read unless you pay a ransom. The FBI recommends paying the ransom in most of these cases. Restoring from a recent backup is much safer and less expensive.)
Do not provide information or computer access over the phone. (There is currently a scam where someone calls, purportedly from Microsoft, and tells you that you have a computer problem. Microsoft will never do this. Only your IT provider if you have one, such as Ethixa, will ever call you about a computer issue.)
Unlike Halloween, where “Trick or Treat” comes only once per year, internet tricksters are always active and looking to get your data and money. Stay safe on the internet and have fun!