With more and more regularity, news sources inform us about the loss of personal and financial information because of cybercrimes perpetrated from around the globe. Elections, power grids, movie production companies, government agencies, and financial institutions have shown vulnerability to cybercriminals. Each time a security breach occurs we hope that it will not affect our personal or business lives. However, the likelihood of staying cyber safe seems less and less likely. One only has to look at the Equifax fiasco, which alone resulted in the theft of personal financial data for 143 million Americans to see it is an uphill battle.
Coincidentally, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month in addition to worthy health causes. Although we always need to be vigilant in protecting our computers, cell phones, and credit cards from cybercriminals, this is a particularly good time to reinforce our safety precautions. Below is a simple list of ways we can take to protect our personal data from outside intrusion.
- Opt for Multiple Authentications – Whenever a website offers a dual authentication option, take it. After you type your initial password, the site will send a confirmation code usually to your cell phone that you will enter in another window to confirm that it is you and allowing safe passage into your account.
- Avoid Phishing Schemes – Apparently, this is a predominant method used by criminals to gain access to a computer or cell phone. The criminal sends an email or text disguised as though it is a legitimate business or close friend and if you open it, the message launches harmful software on your computer, tablet or smartphone. This software mines the device for personal data and feeds it to the hacker. If you are suspicious of an email’s origin, do not open it. If you doubt the legitimacy of an email, do not open it.
- Use Antivirus Software – Download antivirus protection whether it is free or purchased from a reliable source and update it frequently.
- Create Strong, Secure Passwords – A long password combined with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and spaces between characters results in stronger security. Whatever you do, do not leave passwords in an easy to discover location near your device. Some experts recommend utilizing a number of online password managers for convenience and safety.
- Maintain System Updates – Always install system updates and security patches. Many of these have an automatic update feature, but if not, always check for updates.
- Cover Cameras – Avoid having your personal life recorded by covering the camera lens of your laptop or tablet with a piece of paper. There have been documented cases of hackers remotely activating device cameras.
Due to the importance of cybersecurity to our clients and business partners, the Walz Group is hosting a Cybersecurity Seminar followed by a mixer on Wednesday, November 8. Here, you will learn from experts how to protect your business or nonprofit from cybercriminals. To learn more or register, click here.
by Brian Sweigart, Business Development Coordinator