All you need to know about surviving the online world  

When your business becomes more connected, you can experience an exponential level of growth. The prospect is phenomenal. However, such technological growth and connectivity isn’t without unique drawbacks. There are a few things that you can do to protect yourself, your customers, and your staff to provide the best experience for all. This is a short list our cyber security consultants have curated for your safety.

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  1. Create complex passwords


When you take the time to craft an exponentially great password it shows. Attackers and malicious hackers will not be able to brute force your accounts and applications. A great password consists of a minimum of 8 characters and contains lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The majority of security breaches occur because management and team members neglect the importance of creating complex passwords. For added security, do not reuse your passwords. Instead, opt for a password manager to store your various passwords in an encrypted database.


  1. Boost network security


When you are creating your network, or connecting to anyone’s Wi-fi, make sure your connections are encrypted. When you connect to an insecure public network, you run the risk of having your information intercepted by a malicious actor. The best practice, if you must connect to insecure Wi-fi, is to tunnel your traffic through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This encrypted tunnel will keep your information reasonably secure from sniffing by third parties.


  1. Use a strong firewall


Having a strong firewall on your company’s network will ensure that third parties will not be able to obtain unauthorized access. A firewall operates by blocking unauthorized connections to your networked devices.


  1. 4. Watch what you click


There are many known and unknown social engineering schemes around the internet. You may have seen an email touting an enticing offer (“You’ve won money!” “Your account has been upgraded, click here to enter your credentials!”). These offers often lead to a phisher’s fraudulent web portal where they steal your valuable information or install malware onto your machine. These attacks range in sophistication from average scams to complex corporate campaigns; however, they all function to steal your valuable information. If a link looks suspicious or an offer seems unwarranted, it’s best to ignore it and report the spam to the proper agency.


  1. Be careful what you share on social media


We live in increasingly interconnected times and with great connectivity comes great responsibility. The information shared on social media can potentially be used to target you. Attackers regularly use these networking sites to build a profile on a potential target. If you divulge too much about yourself – location, workplace, phone number, birthday – you run the real risk of having your identity stolen. Sophisticated attackers can even use this information to guess passwords to your accounts.


  1. Mobile devices pose a risk too


Mobile devices are ripe with potential exploits for attackers. If you are not careful, you may download an app with embedded malware or open a text message with the potential the hijack your device. Androids and iPhones alike have been the subject of past exploits. The best practice to preserve mobile safety is to treat your phone or tablet with the same care and caution you treat your laptop, work station, or home computer.


  1. Practice safe measures when shopping or banking online


When shopping and banking online, exercise a healthy vigilance. You should always check to be sure the site you are visiting is not a replica of the original. If you spot misspellings in the URL it is best to steer clear, lest you fall prey to sophisticated phisher. Any website that requests your bank account information or credit card data should always be secured with HTTPS. The secure encryption will scramble your data so that nearby attackers will not be able to infiltrate your account or steal your identity. If you do not see HTTPS leading the URL and a green padlock it’s not a good idea to trust the site with your information.


  1. Be careful when venturing into unfamiliar websites


There are dark corners and dodgy places on the internet. And, just like you wouldn’t wander down a shadowy alley in the physical world, you shouldn’t drift off into the dark regions of cyberspace. Websites can be rife with malware waiting to infect you, hackers luring you into their web to steal your identity, and criminal syndicates hosting illegal activity. When surfing the internet, it’s best to stay in the areas you are familiar with. When traveling to new websites, you should check the site’s reputation with McAfee SiteAdvisor.


  1. Keep track of regular software updates


By keeping your software up to date, you prevent the potential exploitation of bugs in the program. Developers release updates on a regular basis that contain valuable bug fixes and newer security features. By running old and outdated software, you are putting yourself in harm’s way and posing an even greater risk for your corporation.


  1. Stay informed on the latest trends in scamming


New attack vectors are discovered everyday to exploit software, but the oldest saying in security is, “The weakest link in any system is the user.” End users are often the target of scammers and hackers. When one of their methods is discovered, they move on to a new one. By training your staff and keeping yourself up to date on the latest trends in scamming, you can prevent a potentially damaging breach. Research has shown that when teams and staff members are trained in the methods hackers use to socially engineer them, they become less likely to fall victim to social engineering.


  1. Stay vigilant


The internet is a great place, and technology is ever evolving. It has great benefits for society and shows increasing promise for various applications. But, you must always maintain a strict level of vigilance when dealing with technology. The attackers are out there, and they don’t play fair. Backup your important data and stay on top of security trends to protect yourself.