Over one year ago, we were propelled into a world of change, where our reliance on different technology mediums suddenly became the primary source of connection with others. Our on-line presence replaced in-person interactions and traditions normally enjoyed now became digital. This shift hit our existence with lightning bolt strength and created feelings of disbelief, anxiousness, and overall fear. For some, embracing technology came easy and for others, not so much. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay.
Social media, digital identity, and technology enables us to build networks instantly. During the past year we have been using different systems and applications with the sole purpose to stay in touch to anyone and everyone. With access at our fingertips, we are quickly transported from one place to another, making our lives easier and expanding our reach globally.
With all the good technology has to offer, there is always a flip side that can have dire outcomes if left ignored. Cyber crime is at an all time high. Cyber criminals use high-tech sophisticated tactics and sneaky tricks to catch us off guard and steal our personal information for monetary gain. Let’s not make it easy for them.
Email communication continues to be the number one target for cyber attacks. Most email providers do a great job of catching about 90% of fake emails before they hit your inbox, but even with the best security tools in place, the person receiving the email remains the weakest link.
Below are some tips that will help in spotting these emails:
- Don’t panic, even if you opened the email it doesn’t mean you have been hacked or infected.
- Delete the message and empty your trash.
- Never click on any link, especially if asking for credentials, banking information, or needing to scan your system.
- If you are unsure, check with the sender or go directly to the webpage to confirm with them.
- Check the email address by hovering over it and look out for typos in the body of the message.
- If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Trust your instincts!
As email is only one avenue for cyber criminals, there are many, many others. The one-size fits all security approach will not work for today's methods that are used and being able to guarantee you will never be hacked is unrealistic. By embracing and enabling a multilayer cyber security approach you can make it much harder for cyber criminals, while staying protected.
Following the tips below is a start to keeping you safer and should be done regularly:
- Use end-point protection on your devices.
- Secure your home wi-fi by changing the password. Most people continue to use the default password provided that is easy to hack.
- Use a complicated password or passphrase and multi-factor authentication. Double the protection. At a minimum 12 characters is recommended with a variety or symbols, numbers, and unique characters.
- Use a different password for every single app you have a username and password for. Even if one is hacked, there is less chance to be hacked again if you change it up.
- When your computer or device has an update, make sure you complete it. Software updates are to patch holes that have been identified as security gaps.
- Lock your devices when left unattended.
- Don’t sign up for things that you really won’t use or need.
As the world has changed and our lives are weaved with technology, we should embrace the positive, along with continuing to be extra vigilant and cyber aware. When I think to the future, I am excited to see innovation discovered by our future generation as there are great things to come!
Let’s Be Cyber S-M-A-R-T.
Contributed by Helen Setsikas, Information Technology