Hackers are getting more sophisticated each day. It is our job to try and stay a step ahead of them. There is always someone on the outside trying to get in. It is imperative to keep your data secure within your business network. It is just as important to keep your personal data at home secure as well. Imagine you mistakenly open a ransom email, and lose all your precious personal photos, or you click on a link without thinking and a virus downloads onto your computer.
Below are some steps you may take to help prevent losing data to hackers or other intruders.
Change your password…often! If someone gets your password and logs into your bank or email account, it could be catastrophic. Get into the habit of changing your passwords no less than every three months. It may be a pain, but I promise, trying to recover the money withdrawn from your online account is a much bigger pain!
Remember to log out! Even if you are using your home computer or laptop, it is never a good idea to select “remember my password”, especially if there is any critical information on the site. It is permissible to remember the user name, but saving your password on the device is not a good idea. If your laptop gets stolen, or a friend accidentally logs in and does not realize it is your account, mistakes may be made.
Keep your antivirus software up to date! Having a computer without up- to- date antivirus is like driving a car without insurance. You are taking a risk every time you go on line or check email. Most people do not know this, but usually your home internet provider offers antivirus at no extra cost to you. Make sure you look into it and take advantage of that offer. It may save you money and it is an instant download.
Beware of spoofing emails! Spoofing emails are those that appear to be from someone you know but actually are from someone you do not know. Spammers and hackers use this tactic to get people to open and click on fake emails since end users are more likely to click on an email from a friend. Be cautious. If you get an email from your mom and she’s telling you to click on some random link, investigate before you click on it. Ask yourself, is this something she would send? Check the time the email was sent - is she usually awake then? Check the email address - the display name may say your mom’s name, but the email address may be something different. Delete the email right away if you come across any of these signs. Better safe than sorry.
Back up your data! It is smart to get an external hard drive to back up your pictures or important files. Back up often so if your desktop or laptop is ever compromised you will have another set of pictures and files on another device to fall back on.
Beware of the VIRUS on your computer alert! Your computer will never tell you that it has a virus and provide a phone number for you to call for support. Once you see a phone number displayed, you know it is a scam! Only the antivirus software installed on your computer will tell you if your computer has a virus. The antivirus program’s job is to catch the virus and put in it in quarantine before it can infect your computer. Also your computer will never say, “click here” or “install this” to remove a potential virus.
Although there is no foolproof way to avoid viruses and scammers completely, these measures can help. Compromised data is not just data stolen, it is data lost forever. Take the time to keep yourself secure. It is well worth the inconvenience.
Angela Corona Torres is the Information Technology manager at McManis Faulkner. She builds and maintains the firm’s network system. In addition, she is responsible for instructing attorneys and staff about new and updated technology devices and programs.