Stop. Think. Connect: Insights From FCB’s Information Security

Stop. Think. Connect.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Some questions we are regularly asked are, “What can I do to be sure my financial information is secure?” “Can I shop safely online?” “Should I have anti-virus on my phone?” “How safe is the cloud?” “How can I avoid identity theft?” Unfortunately the answer is not simple. Cyber security requires a layered approach. The simple things, for example, are to make sure you have anti-virus on your computer and don’t carry your social security card in your wallet. These are relatively well known defenses to protect your identity. However, these days, it takes more effort. Software alone is not enough. The human element is critical to remaining safe and secure in this electronic age.

Some of the best practices for keeping your information safe include:

  1. Watch out for links or text messages that look suspicious or you weren’t expecting. Don’t click it. This is social engineering designed to trick a user into infecting their own machine. The human factor at work. Phishing (email), SMiSHing (text), and vishing (voice) are the primary ways threat actors obtain user login credentials to use in nefarious ways. They secretly install malicious software on your computer. Visiting an infected link is all it takes. They don’t ask the user if they would like to install or ask them to click “Next”. They are much more secretive.
  2. Update and patch all software (i.e. Internet Explorer, MS Office, Google Chrome, etc.) and operating systems (i.e. Windows, iOS, Android, etc.) regularly. The updates and patches released by software vendors always include security updates and vulnerability fixes. Vulnerabilities are discovered every day in software. These are known ways a threat actor uses that software to gain access to devices. Installing these patches and updates timely is critical.
  3. Make your passwords complex and change them often. This is important is because of the use of password cracking software and the increased speed of computers. The faster computers become, the faster password cracker software runs and the faster they can decrypt an encrypted password file. Sometimes in minutes; not days, weeks or years. The longer and more complex (i.e. special characters, numbers, no dictionary words, etc.), the longer it takes to crack and hopefully by the time threat actors decrypt it, you’ve already changed it.
  4. Protect yourself with anti-virus, anti-malware and personal firewall software on your devices. Even your phone.

If it’s connected to a network, it’s vulnerable, no matter what type of device or service it is. A shopping site, cloud storage, your refrigerator, your computer or your phone. Really just about everything with a wireless or blue tooth component is included. It’s called the Internet of Things. All types of things are networked together these days. Make sure to keep them all safe and secure using these fundamentals.

More resources: stopthinkconnect.org