Every day people fall victim to attackers that steal their personal data right out from under them. Passwords, emails addresses, phone numbers, bank accounts, credit cards, and more can all be compromised in the blink of an eye. Over the years these individuals have become increasingly sophisticated to the point where it is almost impossible to tell the difference between imposters and the legitimate companies they are impersonating. We have put together a short list of very easy tips you can employ that will drastically increase your odds of thwarting these attacks.
1.) Keep everything up to date
Nobody likes those pesky popups telling you to update your computer's operating system or web browser. It can often take a while to install and you may even have to restart your computer, forcing you to close everything you have open.
One thing that you may not know is that most updates contain security fixes even though you do not see them listed in the update notes. Software companies are constantly working to keep you secure from the latest threats and installing these updates on a regular basis is an easy way to keep the bad guys out of your system.
Nobody likes them, they are hard to remember, and it's never easy to come up with them. The reality is that this is usually the only thing between your data and the outside world so it should not be something easy to break.
Tip #1: Use a different password for every login. This way if one account is compromised, your others wont be.
Tip #2: The longer the better. Having a password with a minimum of 8 characters will exponentially increase the attackers time needed to crack the passphrase.
Tip #3: Use capital letters and numbers and don't pick common passwords. From my research Password123 is almost always one of the first entries on a password-cracking list as it is the most common password so be creative when deciding your next password.
3.) If you didn't go looking for it, ignore it!
The easiest way scammers get you to do what they want is to impersonate a real service you're using such as a credit card provider, bank, online payment provider, ect.
You may have heard the term Phishing Emails before, it's in the news a lot and in articles around the web. Simply put, these are extremely well crafted emails that are designed to appear as though they have been sent from a legitimate company and are sometimes indistinguishable from the real thing.
Say you receive an email from your bank asking you to log in to view a recent transaction. Most likely they will provide a convenient link that will take you directly to your account. Do not click this! Go to Google and find your bank's website yourself and then log in. In my research I have found a tool that can clone any website in seconds, making you think it's the legitimate website. As soon as you try to log in the attackers have your login and password. That's how quick it can happen.
If I called you pretending to be your bank, there is a pretty good chance I could gather enough information about you and your business from looking around the web to convince you to divulge sensitive information that I could use to gain access to your account. If someone like this contacts you, hang up the phone, look up your bank's phone number, and call them yourself to find out if the person who called you is legitimate. This goes for your credit card company or any other service contacting you.
4.) Antivirus Software
We all download files from the Internet, who doesn't? It's very hard to see what's inside those files. Antivirus Software is an overlooked tool that can prevent headaches down the road for you and your company. Companies like Symantec are literally working around the clock catching and analyzing new threats so their software can catch them before they infect your system.
So just to recap, keep everything up to date, use strong passwords, do not click or give information to anyone or any website you didn't go to and find yourself, and have a good antivirus like Symantec watch over your computer.
Be aware that following these tips will not guarantee that you will not fall victim to an attack but they are good habits that will greatly decrease the likeliness of an attack happening to you. If you have any additional questions or would like to know more about the tops covered in this article you can contact us.