AGA wraps up National Cyber Security Awareness Month with a guest blog post by Jim Linn, Managing Director, Information Technology
I have been fortunate to work in the information technology field since the early 1980s. Back then, the world was a much different place with far less emphasis placed on cybersecurity. Frankly, not all computer systems, databases and networks required user IDs and passwords. Not every employee had access to a work computer and few people had computers at home. Not only was there no such thing as a smart phone, but we didn’t have cell phones. Today, most people run a home network of devices connected to the internet, including computers, TVs, gaming devices, tablets and smart phones, which provide endless entry points for cyberhackers to compromise system integrity and ultimately, your personal data.
The landscape of cybersecurity continues to change, so it is important to recognize that you won’t be able to block every intrusion out there. But you can help to minimize these harmful opportunities with multiple tips and resources. Here are some of my recommendations for protecting and securing your personal technology to get you started:
Home Internet Access
Make sure your home wireless router is password protected. Another solid recommendation is to hide your wireless network or Service Set Identifier (SSID) which makes it far more difficult for cyberhackers to find. The longer it takes to find, the longer it takes to compromise.
Install the latest anti-virus software on all home computers. If cost is a concern, there are quality anti-virus programs available at no cost. It is important to prevent viruses and any sort of malware, which can do anything from export all of your personal data to erase your entire hard drive, from being installed on your computer.
Back It Up
External USB-attached hard drives are great backup devices and the cost for these has dropped significantly. In addition, there are some services that provide online-based computer backup. If you have data on your computer that you can’t afford to lose, such as important work, music, digital photographs, etc. you need to back it up.
One of the most widely used email scams in recent times is spear-phishing. Perpetrators use email addresses that look like the address of a person or an organization you know. All they need is for you to open the attachment or click the link and your computer may become compromised and/or infected. Take care to look closely at the email addresses of incoming mail and at the message itself. Be wary of communication that asks for immediate action, offers prizes or asks for personal information. Take the time to investigate anything that does not look correct before opening the attachment or clicking the link.
Cell Phones and Smart Phones
Phones continue to house more and more personal information. Setup a strong passcode to lock your phone or handheld device so that if it is lost or stolen it cannot be accessed.
These are just some of the many ways you can help to reduce the risk of a personal cybersecurity attack. For additional tips and resources on how to protect yourself, your family and your devices online, visit staysafonline.org – powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Although National Cyber Security Awareness Month has come to a close, cybersecurity remains a top priority at AGA year round. Stay connected with AGA for continuous coverage of cybersecurity topics and content on AGA’s website and blog, and through our Facebook and Twitter accounts.