Cyber Security: Threats, Prevention & Education

Stop. Think. Connect.

Did you know that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM)? This is a month to raise awareness about protecting yourself against security threats, and staying safer and more secure online. Take this opportunity to raise awareness by educating yourself, your family and your friends.

Current Threats

As cyber security threats continue to grow in quantity and sophistication, it is critical that we remain educated on the latest attack methods and scams. Recent threats include social engineering, impersonating calls, email phishing and ransomware.

Impersonating calls are becoming more common and have included fraudsters pretending to be the IRS, the lottery saying you have won, the authorities saying they have a warrant for your arrest, or even vendor who have ‘detected’ a threat on your PC. If you receive a call, Stop, Think and Take Action. These sources would never call you regarding this information, how would they have known your phone number, and if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Never visit a website as instructed over the phone, and don’t let them access your computer.

Email phishing themes can include invoices, past due messages and even an announcement of a tragic event, such as the death of a loved one.

Ransomware is when the files on your PC or mobile device are encrypted and held for ransom. Avoid ransomware by being proactive; patch all software on your devices as updates are available, remain on current operating systems and practice safe web browsing and email processing habits.

Prevention Steps

Taking preventive steps will help to protect your personal devices and information.

  • Patch your PC and mobile device Operating Systems
  • Patch all software on your PC and remain on current versions
  • Utilize anti-virus and make sure it is current
  • Practice safe web browsing habits
  • Create backups of sensitive information in order to avoid loss due to ransomware.
  • Use unique passwords on various websites:
    • Unique: Use different passwords between systems. A compromise of one system doesn’t place access to another at risk
    • Strong: Avoid dictionary words which are easily guessed or cracked. “Fall2016” is a very weak password!
    • Long: Long passwords are harder to guess and crack

Having layers of protection helps to protect your systems. Stop, think and consider your actions on a mobile device. Consider, do you have the same security controls as you have in place on your PC?

Educate Family

We often allow children to utilize our devices. This may place the devices at risk. The Internet can be a dangerous place for children. Learn how to protect them! Enable web browsing protection (https://www.us-cert.gov/publications/securing-your-web-browser) and talk to your children about the dangers of the internet (https://safeandsecureonline.org/parents-guardians/).


Additional Resources