The leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, and flu viruses are lurking among us just waiting to attack those who are most vulnerable – children, the elderly, and those who are immunocompromised. As influenza activity begins to increase, now is the time to practice good physical hygiene to prevent getting the flu, such as washing your hands often (especially in public places), using hand sanitizer, eating healthy, keeping your distance from sick people, and getting a flu shot.
Computer viruses are always in season! The nefarious actors who spread viruses that are designed to infect computers, mobile devices and networks with the intent to steal data (including login credentials!) from unwitting individuals and businesses will target those who are most vulnerable. Regularly practicing good cyber hygiene can help lower your chances of catching a computer virus.
To protect your personal accounts and devices:
- Have reliable and up-to-date antivirus software installed on all your devices – even Apple and Android phones. A good free anti-virus program we recommend is Avast Anti-Virus. Update your mobile and PC operating systems when new updates are available.
- Ensure you are surfing safer. Monitor your URL bar when using your browser. Try to use sites that start with https:// when you can and look for a green lock in the address bar. This shows that the website is safe.
- Only download apps and programs from verified sites to avoid putting your devices at risk. Downloading from the Google Play Store or App Store can help ensure you are getting a legitimate app. However, be aware that cybercriminals are increasingly penetrating the app stores. According to a recent Forbes article, 172 harmful apps with over 335 million installs were found on Google’s Play Store.
- Be extremely cautious when signing onto a public Wi-Fi network, which leaves you more vulnerable to a malicious attack. If using public Wi-Fi often, run a malware scan at least once a week. You can also download and install a VPN (virtual private network) – such as Golden Frog – to protect your data when using any Wi-Fi connection.
- Avoid using the same password for multiple websites. According to Verizon’s Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 80% of hacking-related breaches involved compromised and weak credentials. 29% of all breaches, regardless of attack type, involved the use of stolen credentials. This includes regular patching of devices and applications, consistent data backup and educating upper and lower staff members on better password management and how to spot phishing links in fraudulent emails. Use a free password manager, like LastPass, to manage passwords.
In addition to all of the above, businesses and e-commerce sites should take additional precautions to secure their networks against malicious attacks:
- Use strong authentication to protect access to accounts and ensure only those with permission can access them. This also includes enforcing strong passphrases.
- Back up data: Put in place a system – either in the cloud or via separate hard drive storage – that makes electronic copies of the key information on a regular basis.
- Limit access to data or systems only to the employees who require it to perform the core duties of their jobs.
- Establish policies for what employees can install and keep on their work computers.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Employees should know not to open suspicious links in email, tweets, posts, online ads, messages or attachments – even if they know the source. Employees should also be instructed about your company’s spam filters and how to use them to prevent unwanted, harmful email.
- Encourage employees to keep an eye out and say something if they notice anything strange on their computer.
- Have strong authentication procedures in place – such as requiring cardholders to provide a signature and ID for in-person purchases and a valid billing address and CVV code for online purchases to combat payment card fraud.
- Use automated data analytics to detect suspicious patterns across a broad range of data to detect potential external as well as insider threats and block risky behavior.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
~ Benjamin Franklin