We are all aware that most companies take precautions to prevent hackers from accessing their systems through their firewalls and wreaking havoc with the sensitive information in their servers. That’s because most companies have IT people to do everything possible to ensure the company’s protection. We do the same here at Whip Mix. Billions of data records are stolen annually, and as a result, bank accounts are emptied, credit cards are maxed out, and medical records falsified.

Mike Foster from the Foster Institute presented on the topic of IT Security here at Whip Mix and we wanted to share the following list of suggestions from the Foster Institute that will help prevent the theft of not just your business information, but your personal cyber identity and the myriad problems associated with it. Read and learn.

Mission: Make the World a Safer Place - Cyber Security Steps at Home

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1. Passwords: Enable two-step verification on PayPal, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Facebook and every other web service you use. On each website, look for Settings > Security.

2. Be sure to change your user account type to “standard” on your local computer, to help block attackers from taking over your computer. The settings are in Control Panel. Steps: 1) Create a new user as a local account. Name it something like “Superhero” 2) Change that user’s account type to be a local administrator 3) Change your account type to standard. Now use your account. Mac users can create standard users too.

3. Make Image Backup Snapshots of your computer’s hard drive. Keep backing up your computer the way you are now, and also perform regular image backups. With image backups, then if your computer starts acting strangely, you can restore an image. That will effectively reset the computer to how it was at your last backup. Stop troubleshooting computer problems. Just restore the image. Image backup tools for Windows include ShadowProtect Desktop from StorageCraft, and Acronis True Image. For Macs, use Carbon Copy Cloner from Bombich Software.

4. Uninstall Flash and Java from your computer. Attackers frequently exploit Flash and Java to hack computers, so it is best to remove them if they are not necessary. Many people find that the websites that are essential work fine without Flash or Java. If you need Flash or Java, then download fresh versions from https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/ or java.com

5. Aggressively apply critical security patches to the Operating System, Browsers, Flash, Java, and Reader. For home computers, confirm that automatic updates are configured for Microsoft’s and Apple’s products. You may need to patch browsers, Flash, Java, and Reader manually. Know that there is always a small risk that a patch could break one of your programs at home, so making regular image backups of your computer is an excellent idea before patching. Patch firewalls too.

6. Uninstall every program & application that is not essential to you. Every application that is on your computer creates a potential toe-hold for an attacker to use to get into your system.

7. Use anti-virus suites that include a software firewall. Find reviews at www.av-test.org. Always install anti-virus and firewall before connecting a new computer to the Internet.

8. Passwords: Let your computer remember your passwords. Avoid using the same password at more than one website. Password managers are a feature of browsers and some anti-virus programs. Or you can install a commercial password manager. Never store super-sensitive passwords, such as banking passwords. Memorize, hand-write, or save those in an encrypted document with a random filename.

9. Physical Security: Keep doors closed and locks locked. Secure your computer and phone, as well as all memory sticks and backup drives. It is best if your computer is not visible through a window.

10. Reconsider using Public Wi-Fi. It is terrible for your security. Connect your laptop to your phone or hotspot instead.

11. Power Off your computer when you are not using it. Restart at least once a week, perhaps every day.

12. Use excellent web content filtering. Use OpenDNS, your firewall’s content management settings, or another service to help automatically stop you and your family from accidentally visiting infected, or inappropriate, websites. Drive-by-downloads are very common and effective for attackers to hack you.

Executives, avoid this mistake: Know that, if all of these recommendations have been implemented at your company, it can give you a false sense of security. These recommendations are for home users. Protecting an organization’s IT security is far more complicated.

  • Please tell your IT Professionals that you appreciate them even more than ever now. They have a huge responsibility to protect against a growing threat and often don't get noticed until something terrible happens.
  • Have independent third-party audits and make sure that the auditing company is helping your IT people implement a prioritized list of recommendations.
Share these suggestions with your employees and take them into consideration for your own home cyber protection immediately. Believe me, you will sleep better at night!
 
 
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