Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Computer Security Best Practices

It’s finally October, which means National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is in full effect. Oftentimes, IT security can become overlooked when an organization is focusing its attention on other areas.

NCSAM was originally started by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a federal non-profit group. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NCSAM has grown in size and participation since it first began. The goal of NCSAM is to bring awareness to the general public about how they can stay safe and secure online.

Information Technology: General Awareness

To help keep you safe, we’ll be going over a couple best-practice topics within this blog post.

An easy topic to start us off is social media. Most businesses and individuals use social media sites on a daily basis. Some people post online social media marketing for their job role. Others scroll through various social media platforms on their lunch break.

Whatever the case may be, it’s evident most of us are browsing online without much thought. Because of this, it’s likely others can gain unauthorized access to our sensitive information without knowing us it.

Certain links or other malicious software might be lurking on your Facebook feed, so always check before you click. Phishing, a type of social engineering tactic usually implemented over email, can show up on social media networks too.

Social Media Tips For Safety:

  • Check your login history for suspicious logins
  • If someone on your feed posts spam, report or block them
  • Make sure a website’s URL is legitimate (for example a .com vs .net address)
  • Check for spelling mistakes or a link that, when hovered over, does not match the URL listed in the message
  • Never give out personal or financial information to someone who seems suspicious

If someone does gain access to your account, make sure to watch for any unauthorized changes. Keep an eye out for changes to your bank account or any unusual activity. You could also consider reporting cyber attacks to local authorities.

Our next topic deals with more sinister security issues– mainly ransomware and data breaches.

While the internet is certainly a useful research and communication tool, it hides some malicious entities in its depths. Hackers and other cyber criminals are always on the lookout to steal your information. And they do so with a combination of tactics.

Viruses and ransomware are two popular methods of attack for bad actors. Viruses are meant to spread from device to device, which gives criminals access to your information. Ransomware, a type of malware, goes after a computer system by locking and encrypting a victim’s files.

After a victim’s files are encrypted, the criminal demands a payment to unlock the stolen information. Oftentimes, even if you do pay the ransom, there’s no guarantee the data will be returned to you. In this way, any individual or organization is at risk of having important information stolen from them.

While ransomware can be considered a type of data breach depending on the incident, there are some distinct differences. A typical data breach occurs when confidential or sensitive information is stolen from an organization. A hacker’s goal? Financial gain, or often harm through the release of said information.

Ransomware and Data Breach Tips for Safety:

  • Keep software, browsers, and hardware up to date using industry leading technology
  • Protect your networks devices using two-factor authentication (2FA) and strong passwords
  • Back up copies of your data
  • Run security software scans to ensure your devices are healthy
  • If you do receive a ransom note: NEVER pay the ransom. Instead, consult with law enforcement or an expert in IT on your next steps

Many organizations assume because they’re smaller, or work in a certain industry, that a data breach won’t happen to them. Any business, anywhere, can become a target of a cyber criminal, and it’s better to be safe than sorry. A lawsuit or bad press can ruin a business. By taking care of critical infrastructure needs before an issue occurs, you’ll reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

This October, make sure to read up on some common IT security issues and plan your actions accordingly. Now is the time to learn about different types of cyber activities and cyber threats before it’s too late. Become familiar with security best practices and you’ll remain safer and more secure online.

If you’re looking to get more information about cybersecurity, check out our sheets below. To contact SkyPort IT today, call 585-582-1600 or visit our contact page.
Who’s Got Your Data?

Written by Emily M.

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