October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Now you are aware.
The question, however, that remains is “what does that mean to me?” I’m glad you asked. In 2014 companies such as Chase, Target, KMart, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, and yes, even the hallowed Dairy Queen were all breached. It is safe to say that warfare has evolved – That is not to say that spears no longer work, however the reach of a computer with an Internet connection is much greater than anything we could have ever imagined.
But again, “what does that mean to me?”. With any weapon, comes responsibility – we are not going to teach you how to make your computer a threat – far from it – we want to show you how to be a little safer FROM those threats. The truth is, it is all the same things you have heard before – but let’s take a look at WHY these steps are important.
KEEP YOUR COMPUTER CURRENT
Most of the time, exploits are targeted at “weak” systems. By keeping your operating system current, you are taking advantage of the diligence of the creator of those operating systems to make your computer safe. There are always stories of “that update killed my computer” … and a lot of them are true. Our advice is to update your computer on the first day of the month. Almost nobody releases their updates during the last week of a month – this will give time for the bugs to be worked out.
USE A GOOD ANTI-VIRUS PRODUCT
Would you get a flu shot from your convenient store? How about an anti-biotic from a guy on Craigs List? No? Then don’t get a third-world free anti-virus product. This is your first line of defense. Consider it the cost of doing business.
BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU GO
Just like you wouldn’t walk down dark alleys with twenty dollar bills hanging out of your pockets yelling “I’m unarmed and wealthy ..”, don’t hang out in places that are prone to be frequented by hackers. If you are given to adult sites and gambling, consider getting a throw-away computer for that activity.
DON’T LET YOURSELF BE USED
You wouldn’t let your computer be used by a stranger would you? (please say “no”) There are some programs in the wild called a RAT. RAT means Remote Access Trojan; it is a program designed to let a stranger use your computer to perform whatever act that they would like. RATS are considered malware and are the preferred weapon of ne’er-do-wells who would seek to do your harm. It is important that you understand that a RAT is not a virus, and as a result MAY NOT BE DETECTED by your anti-virus. Please make certain that you have an anti-malware product installed, or that your anti-virus software contains an anti-malware component.
So, now your protection is current, you are only going to pure and holy websites, and you refuse to participate in bad things. Now what ?
The word of the day is INFORMED. Remain informed from your trusted advisors as to new and unusual threats and how to deal with them. We know that the tool at your hand can be your best friend – we just want to make certain that it isn’t your enemy’s best friend too. As always, consult with your local technical consultant.