Enhancing Computer Security
Did you hear about the ransomware attack this morning? It seems as though cybersecurity is a growing concern for all of us.
Hackers and identity thieves are constantly looking for personal information to steal – and yours and your clients could be next. But there are protections you can put in place to safeguard your information, such as keeping your software up-to-date, only providing your personal information on secure, encrypted websites, and protecting your passwords.
Select Security Software that Updates Automatically
Hackers and identity thieves are continuously developing and evolving in the ways they can attack your computer and mobile devices, making your security software essential at every step. While most security software products have the capability to update automatically, they must be set to do so; make sure your security software is set to update automatically on all of your devices. In addition to your security software, set your operating system and web browser to update automatically so they are better able to support the updates to your security software, making it more difficult for a bad guy to sneak in malware or spyware on your computer.
When searching for security software to purchase, only purchase from a reputable company. You never want to purchase security software from a company you’ve never before heard of saying they’ve scanned your computer and found viruses, and, as a result, offering a “deal” because these are usually either worthless or, worse, imposter scamming programs aimed at installing the very programs they purport to prevent: malware.
Provide Personal Information Over Secure, Encrypted Websites
Your mind may immediately go to shopping and banking sites when told to protect your personal information online. But, there are many other sites where we share our information online and using informed, safe practices across the board can be the difference between hackers and thieves tracking your information and not. First, stick to sites that use encryption. Using encryption protects your information as it travels from your computer to the host site’s server. You will want to inspect each site before entering personal information. You will know the website is secure and encrypted if the beginning of the web address is https (the “s” is for "secure").
Next, you will want to inspect each page you visit on the website. Some sites only encrypt the first page, or the sign-on page, of the website. This means that the rest of your visit to the site could be vulnerable. Be sure that every page you visit has the “https” website address.
Protect Your Passwords
The best advice for protecting your password is to create strong passwords and keep them in a safe location. But, it is, of course, more complicated than just these simple principles, so here are a few additional guidelines:
· When creating a password, it is important to remember that the longer the password, the harder it is for the hackers and thieves to break through. As for an ideal length, twelve is the magic number with ten characters being the minimum recommended.
· When creating a password, don’t use predictable information like your birthdate, name, or other information that would be easy for a hacker or thief to easily break through. Instead, mix letters, numbers, and special characters.
· For many of us, it is easy to use the same password for multiple accounts. But, this is not recommended. If that password is stolen from your computer, or from an app where you have it stored, or even from a company with which you do business, then that thief or hacker now has access to all of your accounts.
· When storing your passwords, keep them in a secure place out of plain sight. Be very cautious about sharing them with anyone and never share passwords over the phone, in texts, or by email. Legitimate companies will not send you messages asking for a password. If you receive such a message, it is probably a scam.
In addition to your computer software, encrypted websites, and password protection, you will also want to back-up important files onto a removable disc or an external hard drive, and store it in a safe place. The cloud is also an option for backing up files and can be accessed remotely. By backing up your files, you are ensuring that if your computer is compromised you will still have access to your client files. While no system can be completely secure, the guidelines and tips above will provide you with a more secure overall computer system. Scammers, hackers, and identity thieves are on the prowl and it is up to us as lawyers to secure not only our personal information but also that of our clients.
For more information about cybersecurity software or secure cyber practices, contact Sara Rust-Martin, KBA Law Practice Management Attorney, 785.234.5696 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.