The media is covered with stories every day of a cyber-attack here, a data breach there and other computer issues. As a business leader of a small or medium organization, you are at just as much risk as the larger companies. Even the best threat and virus protection do not stop everything. Every day, new strains and new methods of cyber-attacks are launched to the internet. While many are caught and protection are put in place quickly, there are some that have no protection. To prevent these from entering your organization’s environment, your staff is the best defense. Teaching and reminding them of the constant threats is important. Here are 10 items to help you.
•Advertisements on websites are a major source of computer malware. Even the mainstream sites such as news, sports or search engines are often infected with malware. Malicious malware is often attached to advertisements via scripting or links, and since the advertisements usually are not created by the source site, they have little control and often do not review them for threats.
•Malware scripts often are embedded in email via scripts or attachments. Sometimes it is because your contact’s email has been hacked or more often these days because their email is on a list that has been collected and then used to try and get your attention. If you get an email from someone who does not usually send you links or attachments, confirm with them directly it is something they have sent before opening. People are creatures of habit and unusual emails are often a sign of malware or spam.
•If you get a pop-up saying you are infected, shut down your computer immediately and contact your IT professional. While many of these malware’s are harmless, shutting down will stop whatever was happening. If it was just a malicious popup, it will be gone when restarted. If however the issue is a more damaging malware such as the Crypto virus; it will stop it from doing further damage to your systems. Contact your IT professional immediately. Early detection and remediation are critical.
•Phishing to get your usernames and passwords has become a technique used to defraud users out of millions of dollars. The largest targets are often bank websites. The emails look authentic and even sometimes appear to come from an email address at the targeted institution. There are two steps to ensure you are not caught by this malware, first go to the site directly, not through a link. These links usually lead to a site that looks very familiar but is not actually the site you are trying to get to. Second, especially when dealing with bank sites, call the bank directly and verify it is a valid request. Don’t use the number in the email, use the number on your debit/credit card or the bank official website.
•Don’t use the same passwords on all your websites and accounts. Using different complex passwords for each site limits the chance of multiple accounts being hacked at once.
•Be careful what communications and transactions you do at a hot spot such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or other public internet connections. These places can be easy targets for hackers to try and steal your data. The most common stolen information: credit cards, user names, passwords and sensitive emails.
•Change your passwords periodically. Many sites and systems now require it but if not, consider changing them regularly.
•Keep your passwords safe. This means do not leave them where others can get them from your desk or desktop. Storing them on your desktop in an unsecured file is as dangerous as leaving them on your monitor. It is analogous to leaving your keys in your car.
•Stay away from pop-ups telling you in a browser window that you have a virus or speed up your computer, they often are the source of an infection.
•Keep your important information backed up just in case you do get infected, you don’t lose everything if the previous steps fail.
Protecting the information of any organization is the responsibility of every user. Education and reinforcement periodic on the importance of data security and best computer practices should be part of every businesses’ IT plan.
If you are a small to medium size business, and would like to learn more about protecting your organization, give us a call. Integrated Media Networks, Inc. specializes in IT support for businesses like yours. We also work with the Non-Profit community with affordable plans! To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 877-269-7373. To learn more about us, visit our website at http://www.imni.net.