The entire period of COVID-19 has fundamentally altered business in many ways. People have shifted gears to switch to remote working and businesses have scrambled to provide the network security and infrastructures required and enable BYOD for employees, partners, and stakeholders. Hackers and malicious organizations have taken advantage of the situation with a reported 300% increase in crimes. There were 445 million cyber-attacks reported in just the first quarter of 2020.
This has resulted in nearly 25% of organizations seeing an increase in unanticipated costs to relieve the impact of cyber security breaches and malware infections. Tech Jury recently claimed that companies had 22 security threats on average in 2020, and the cost cybercrime is expected to reach $6 trillion by 2021.At IT Support Houston, we have remained vigilant and tried our best to protect clients and our wider network through building awareness and implementing relevant technical solutions.
So, how do you remain protected as an individual or a business in a world where a single breach can result in irreparable damage to data loss, business viability and reputation not to mention financial loss and emotional cost? Although threats have undeniably more sophisticated and the impact of cybercrime is huge in terms of total financial losses, most still result from fairly basic security flaws. For instance, 94% of malware attacks still originate in emails and phishing accounts for nearly 80% of all reported security incidents. Some hackers can remotely control your computers after finding an entryway through some form of malware, encrypt your data, and then use it to get ransom. Most of these attacks, then result from exploiting known and exposed vulnerabilities.
Fortunately for us, we can choose to stay safe for the most part by adhering to some fairly basic and even common sense measures. We have a 10 effective tips for smart and safe web browsing to reduce your risk of malicious attacks.
These safe web browsing techniques include:
Always use a secure web browser and keep it updated–You can refer to comparative browser studies like this one by NSS to educate yourself about the security strength of different browsers and choose one that’s more secure. You can tweak your security settings to make them stronger and choose to automatically install updates whenever available as these updates often contain important security patches.
Use VPN – When you connect to the Internet, your computer constantly sends or receives information through data packets. When these data packets are ‘visible’, anyone can trace your IP. This means they will also know your exact location. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be very useful in cloaking your ISP by flowing your traffic data through an anonymous IP and encrypting it so its unusable by anyone else. There are many VPN options out there including free ones (that often sell your data while remaining purportedly free). Please do your research in selecting a reliable VPN service provider.
Browse Sites that Use HTTPS (Secure website) – Secure sites have a visual padlock marked out in green next to the website address. Do not browse or submit any personal information on sites that do not have the symbol.
Use secure passwords on secure connections – With the ever increasing abundance of electronic devices and free Wi-Fi available everywhere, there is a strong incentive for people to constantly check-in and always stay connected. But before you check your mails or access other sensitive information that requires you to put in your credentials –please make sure that your connection is secure. And most important of all, please use secure passwords. An assortment of random uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters generally work best and are hard to ‘crack’, but the names of friends or relatives close to you or dates of personal significance to you (a loved one’s birthday, for example) makes for very easily hackable passwords.
Look out for phishing attacks – Always be wary of clicking on links unless you’re absolutely sure of the address and the destination. Most attackers use compelling emotional attacks to make you click on links (promising access to free content, rewards and more) or just by looking exactly like a trusted source that you frequently use. If you get a warning message while browsing, backtrack from there immediately.
Get an ad blocker (Don’t Click on ADS & OFFERS) – Ad blockers are always a safe bet as ads are often used as a delivery mechanism for a variety of malware. A good ad-blocker can stop annoying ads and pop-ups from disturbing your browsing experience, but also make it a bit faster.
Use two-step verification – Enabling two-step verification ensures that only you can access that particular account since it’s very unlikely that an attacker can have access to multiple devices owned by you at once.
Clear those cookies–Cookies are the little bits of data most websites save on your browser. These can include information that’s used to target you with ads and more. Clearing your cache can reduce the frequency of these ads. In case you want to save some logins, please remember to whitelist those websites in your browser.
Use reputable anti-virus software – Back to the basics. Yes, even in the days of gesture control, mixed reality rendering and more, the good old anti-virus can still literally save your bacon.
Only download from reputable sites – Apart from double-checking links to click on, you should always be wary of downloading anything from the Internet unless you explicitly trust the source it comes from.
Advanced persistent threats, phishing attacks and identity theft are fast becoming a part and parcel of our digital lives and as a responsible digital citizen it behoves you to learn as much as possible about security parameters and take precautions to protect your home/ business network. By being a little proactive, you can secure not just yourself, but your family, employees, business partners and customers from falling victim to criminal intent. PennComp, a managed it services Houston company can help you stay updated with the most relevant security measures for your needs and ensure that you remain protected digitally whenever you connect to the Internet. Just give us a call and we’ll help you get started on the best ways to protect your digital privacy and security.
About the Author:
Scott Young, is the president of PennComp LLC. Being a CPA, Six Sigma Master Blackbelt, Change Management Certified and Myers Briggs Qualified, Scott’s expertise is reflected in PennComp as a leading IT company for computer services and network integration. PennComp utilizes Six Sigma methodologies and practices in their service delivery and offers state-of-the-art monitoring and management tools to their clients. Recently he wrote a blog on smart data breach prevention tips.