October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

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“The next ten years in cybersecurity are critical to ensure a safe, secure, resilient cyberspace where the American way of life can thrive. Given the stakes we must remain focused on meeting the challenges of the next ten years.” -U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security

Before we get into this, let me clarify what cybersecurty is. Cybersecurity is the protection of computers and computer systems against unauthorized attacks or intrusion.

Now, why is it important? Its rather simple…without decent security, your information is at a high level of risk of being compromised! That includes your credit card numbers you punch into the computer, your phone numbers and addresses, your clients information (may include credit cards, bank information), and much more. I don’t want to alarm you and make you think that you need to go home or over to your office and burn the computer or delete all your information. Using the computer is like driving your car. You are accepting some risk each time you start it up. You may wreck just like you may get hacked. So, don’t panic, but in the same way you wear a seatbelt and shop for cars with higher safety ratings, you need to take some safety measures with the computer.

Be sure you are installing necessary updates, especially to your operating system and security software.  If you don’t have a firewall, consider getting one. You can get a software or hardware firewall, but I recommend hardware. They are more expensive but the threat has to actually reach your computer before a software firewall can do anything. I would rather keep it out entirely! You will want to install security software (anti-virus/anti-spyware) if you don’t have it already. Avoid the “free” software like AVG Free Edition and Microsoft Security Essentials. They are more clean-up tools rather than prevention tools.

You also want to pay attention to the way you browse and use the Internet. Use caution on what you post on social media sites. Don’t tell everyone you leave for vacation next week, that’s an invitation to a thief! Wait till you return to post photos of the trip. Make sure the security padlock is on in the bottom corner of your browser before you enter a credit card number or personal information when shopping online. If an offer “pops up” that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Last, but not least, check out the site below for more information and as always, give us a call if you have questions or need any help!

www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect

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