Tips for Online Safety 2017

October 3, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recognizes October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Now in its 14th year, this month is designed to engage and educate businesses and consumers through events and initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, provide them with tools and resources needed to stay safe online, and increase everyone’s cyber resilience. Herjavec Group is proud to be a NCSAM Champion!

Each week in October is dedicated to a cybersecurity theme, the first of which is Simple Steps To Online Safety. The onus of securing important data, whether corporate or personal, is on everyone. From entry-level employees to the boardroom, it is critical that businesses invest the time necessary to educate their employees on how to maintain a safer digital presence.

Here are some online safety tips everyone can implement to ensure that your personal and corporate information stays protected.

1. Patch your systems and update computer/mobile software regularly.

Patching regularly ensures that any known security flaws are resolved so hackers are less likely to get into your systems. In a recent interview with CNN Live about the Petya ransomware, Robert Herjavec, Founder and CEO of Herjavec Group advised, “You’ve got to constantly have vigilance and look at your systems and you have to be patching.”

2. Don’t click on unknown links or open unknown attachments.

A common element in phishing email scams is fraudulent links or attachments ridden with malware. When users click on the link provided, they are directed to a fake webpage that looks identical to the real version but is designed to extract your login information or automatically download malware onto your devices. As a general rule of thumb, unless you’re absolutely certain the email sender is legitimate, do not click on any links or download any attachments.

3. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all your accounts.

Using MFA is a great way to deter cyber criminals from accessing your accounts. If a website notices someone logging into your account from a new device, they email or text you a verification code to ensure it’s really you. If the verification code is not entered on the login page, you will not be able to access the account.

4. Cover internal laptop cameras.

Hackers can easily gain remote access to your laptops and spy on you using the laptop’s internal camera. Although many cameras can have small light indicators to designate when they’re on, these indicators can be easily missed or turned off. To secure your privacy, keep built-in webcams covered at all times unless they’re in use.

5. Don’t do any shopping or banking on public Wi-Fi networks.

Public Wi-Fi networks are often insecure and used by hackers to intercept data. If you are using public Wi-Fi, it is always recommended to use a virtual protection network (VPN), which will encrypt your outgoing data and shield it from prying eyes.

6. Ensure that websites are SSL-secure (https instead of http) before making financial transactions online.

As more users turn to online retail shopping, especially during the holiday season, many don’t realize that entering financial information on non-SSL-secure websites can leave their private data vulnerable to hackers. Websites that are SSL-secure (use https://) safeguard personal information entered by users by encrypting the data so it’s inaccessible by criminals.

7. Delete old, unused software applications and apps from your devices.

Take a look at all the apps and software programs you have installed on any of your devices. How many have you used in the past year? Chances are, if you’re not using these apps, you’re not paying attention when security updates are made available to patch for new vulnerabilities. If left unpatched, hackers can use known security flaws to gain access to your devices.

8. Refresh your passwords every 30 days for all accounts and use unique passwords for each account.

Strong password etiquette is key to avoid being hacked. Many people recycle passwords for all, or most, of their accounts and cyber criminals often rely on this practice to gain access to a user’s private data.

9. Update your anti-virus software as soon as updates become available.

If your new device comes equipped with anti-virus software, make sure it remains regularly updated. As hackers evolve and continue to develop new ransomware strains or re-hash older versions, updating anti-virus software will ensure that your devices are protected against any possible new strains.  

10. Change the manufacturer’s default passwords on all of your software.

Manufacturers often use simple, easily hackable passwords such as ‘password123’ or ‘admin’. Cyber criminals are fully aware of these passwords so when attempting to gain access through software applications, they always try the default passwords first just in case users forgot to change them. In fact, the infamous Dyn attack, which brought down major websites such as Twitter, Netflix, and Spotify, occurred in part because hackers were able to easily hijack numerous IoT devices as they still used factory-set default passwords.

Get Involved

Herjavec Group is proud to be a NCSAM Champion and we want to know: what steps are you taking to make sure you stay cyber safe?

Join in the discussion by using #cyberaware to engage with us on social media!

About Herjavec Group

Dynamic entrepreneur Robert Herjavec founded Herjavec Group in 2003 to provide cybersecurity products and services to enterprise organizations. We have been recognized as one of the world’s most innovative cybersecurity operations leaders, and excel in complex, multi-technology environments. Our service expertise includes Advisory Services, Technology Architecture & Implementation, Identity Services, Managed Security Services, Threat Management and Incident Response. Herjavec Group has offices and Security Operations Centers across the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

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