Hackers say they can teach a monkey to hack a computer in a few hours, which is disturbing news to anyone who makes a living online.
Having recently suffered two cyber attacks—an email and Twitter account—I sought advice from a cyber savvy friend at Wombat Security Technologies
in Oakland, a CMU spinoff and expert in the area of cyber security training and filtering solutions for businesses and employees.
Phishing attacks rose a whopping 59 percent in 2012 from the previous year, says Amy Baker, marketing director. Phishing is the fraudulent act of sending emails that pretend to be from a legitimate company or person but are actually breaking into and confiscating your personal information.
“It’s just one of many problems,” she says.
Wombat Securities shared a few key tips on the top ways to safeguard your online business culled from their vast training library.
Just because you Google for something doesn’t mean you will land on a legitimate website. Check urls and learn domain names. There are many dangerous websites in cyberland. CNN.net, for example, is not the same as CNN.com.
Don’t allow your browser to remember your passwords; they can be retrieved by other people. And don’t save credit card information on websites.
Be alert for emails that address current events or the scandal of the moment. Many contain links that lead to websites with malware.
Don’t assume your friends or colleagues are sending you safe links or attachments. If you receive a suspect link from a friend or colleague, delete it immediately. If your email is infected, change your password right away. You might need to shut the account down and create a new one.
This is an important topic, Baker says. If you think you have a great password, think again. Lists are circulating in cyberspace with the top passwords of all time
and yours could be on it, especially if it contains the word “monkey,” the numbers 123456 or the letters qwerty.
Vary your passwords across sites. Create online banking and purchasing passwords that are different from general website passwords. Strong passwords are key: the strongest ones contain at least eight letters and include uppercase letters, symbols and numbers.
The hardest passwords to crack are password families and ones that string multiple words together, like redcar and bluecar or mojomama and mojopapa with a few numbers and symbols tossed in.
Cyber criminals are having a heyday with your social contacts. Everything you post on social media, no matter what your privacy option, is in the public domain. People have lost their jobs from a tasteless or thoughtless post, says Baker. Set boundaries on your online persona.
Wombat’s co-founder Lorrie Cranor recently published a “Guide to Facebook’s Privacy Options”
in the Wall Street Journal, a great read for anyone wishing to stay abreast of this fast-moving area of social media.
Don’t share information that sets you up for identity theft: your birthday and year, place of birth, address.
Beware of sms-phishing: fake text messages that look like they’re from your bank or a company but are really just trying to harvest your passwords when you follow the link and login.
Make sure the apps you download are legitimate. Check reviews for malware ratings. Amazon and Apple apps are generally safer than apps from noname stores.
Beware of free WiFi
When you use a public WiFi network that’s unprotected, anyone can eavesdrop on your conversations. Look for password protected sites. If you must use an unprotected network, only visit websites you know are secure and don’t enter sensitive information like passwords.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Amy Baker, Wombat Security Technologies