The seemingly limitless freedom that the internet provides for its users comes with an ever-present warning: be careful with where you leave your data. As the security breaches at Ashley Madison, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and even the federal government has shown, no aspect of our online lives is sacred if it happens to fall into the crosshairs of a talented hacker. And while some of these incidents may seem far removed for the standard citizen (thankfully not everyone is on Ashley Madison looking to start a destructive marital affair), the fear that our own data could be similarly targeted and assaulted can be a valid concern. Awareness is the primary weapon to use in this kind of environment, and establishing personal best practices for online hazards will keep your data safe among the rising tide of hacking and scamming.
Phishing scams are particularly devious villains in the online realm, and having a solid knowledge of the frequently visited websites you go to will allow you to sidestep any troubles they may cause. Phishing is where a malicious agent will put up a front of a trusted entity (i.e. Facebook or Amazon.com) in order to collect personal information for its own purposes, often causing financial damages to the consumer or even identity theft. Phishing scams that masquerade as financial institutions are particularly dangerous, as a customer may be prompted to enter a banking routing or account number into the malware, giving extensive financial access to the customer’s bank account before it is caught. Thankfully, most banks offer fraud protection in case of these kind of emergencies, but it remains a headache for the victim of these scams. The best course of action is to take care that the website where you are entering your data is from a trustworthy source—an extra second or two of caution can save you weeks or months’ worth of pain in this area. Look for oddly placed logos and graphics and non-standard web addresses on the webpage, and make sure to take extra caution when accessing a company website through email, as this is often the origin of most of these type of scams.
For general data security purposes, standard best practices are a must in order to stay ahead of any trends in the viral and hacking fields. In their recent article reporting on the recent hacking incidents, TechCrunch provides a great list of habits to use in order to take precautions:
-Regularly change your account passwords, use strong passwords. and avoid using obvious, guessable passwords
-Keep your operating system and software constantly patched and updated.
-Invest in a reliable anti-malware program, both on your PC and your mobile devices.
-Avoid downloading programs from unreliable sources, or clicking on links in emails coming from unknown senders.
-Consider using an encryption solution that will ensure your data remains safe even if the provider is compromised.
Personal responsibility for your own data is ultimately the best course of action when dealing with security threats. There is no need to fear the web and all it has to offer despite the risk of viruses or scams, and one must only be vigilant to avoid the headaches that a personal security breach can cause.
If you own your own business, online threats can be an additional hassle as important and sensitive data can be at risk from malware attacks. If you’d like to know more on how Sun Sign Designs can assist you in protecting your business from online threats, please contact us today!