As cybercrime continues to evolve and adapt to the online environment, it’s inevitable that we — as consumers and business owners — must also continue to learn.
It’s always surprising to see the new scams and attacks that cause even the most diligent internet users to pause and consider clicking. As a National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) Cybersecurity Awareness Month Champion, we’ve posted about staying safe online before.
Now we want to highlight a few specific ways to stay cybersafe, including:
- How to identify scams
- How to protect against attacks
- How to detect that you have been hacked, and
- How to respond and recover from a breach.
Keep yourself, your family, and your company business safe by following the tips below.
How to identify scams
Some spam emails can look very legit, especially if they come from government agencies, financial institutions, or e-commerce websites.
Bad emails will often have a timeline for responding, including telling you your account has been compromised, your order cannot be fulfilled or there is another urgent matter to address.
If you’re unsure, find out more about the company online (not by using any links in the email) or by calling the company directly with info from your account statements, credit card or company website.
Always pay close attention to the email address, logo, and website URL to check for legitimacy. If any of those 3 seem off, delete.
The old saying applies: When in doubt, throw it out. For a more in-depth look at email, phishing and spam, read more from the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) here.
How to protect against attacks
The best way you can protect yourself against hackers, spam emails and phishing campaigns is to always keep your devices up-to-date.
Software, operating systems, and apps often send out patches to known bugs in order to protect you.
Do the right thing and update.
Yes, it might be obnoxious to let your phone or computer update when you really want to use it, but it will pay dividends in the long run.
Schedule updates for sleep hours when you’re off devices to save time.
Use hard-to-guess passwords and passphrases, and never repeat the same password to “keep it simple.”
You give hackers a direct line to your finances and personal information when you repeat passwords.
Use a password vault to keep them all in one place so you don’t have to memorize multiples. However, guard the access phrase in every way possible.
Manage your privacy online with these helpful tips from the NCSA.
How to detect if you’ve been hacked
There are a few ways you can tell if your computer or device has been compromised.
If your computer is hacked, Norton suggests you might notice some of the following symptoms:
- Frequent pop-up windows, especially the ones that encourage you to visit unusual sites, or download antivirus or other software
- Changes to your home page
- Mass emails being sent from your email account
- Frequent crashes or unusually slow computer performance
- Unknown programs that startup when you start your computer
- Programs automatically connecting to the Internet
- Unusual activities like password changes
If you’re using personal devices that have virus protection software, run it to check for threats. If nothing is detected, you should contact a security expert to check for you.
If you’re in a corporate environment, call your IT department right away and explain what happened.
How to respond and recover from a breach
Reporting identity theft, fraud and cybercrime is an important response step to help catch criminals.
If you or a family member falls victim, there are a few avenues to pursue, both with local and governmental authorities.
Make sure you collect and keep all evidence relating to the contact. It could be very helpful to authorities.
For businesses, response and recovery go hand in hand.
If you’ve had a breach of customer information, the best way to respond is to be honest and be forthcoming.
A professional team can help distribute a press release and handle all media inquiries.
It’s also imperative to have a customer service response planned and a team ready to help. Make sure you have the team trained and ready to respond.
Additional guidance and resources on ransomware are available from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
Staying aware online is everyone’s job. For more details about how to keep yourself (and your business) safe, contact us today for expert advice for your industry.