October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month: Simple Steps to Online Safety

Data breaches, phishing attacks, stolen identities, invasion of privacy, ransomwares, and more. Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common, more sophisticated, and not only target our data, but they are also trying to gain financial benefits.

logo for Cybersecurity Awareness MonthAttacks are not just targeting the individual anymore. Today, the purpose of the attacks has expanded to impact as many users as possible. The majority of attacks use very well known methods to infect a system, capture the data, and then spread their infection to other systems.

As a community member, when we follow and apply effective security practices, we not only protect ourselves and our data/systems, we also create a secure environment which protects our community and national networks as well. We are the most important building block of the security structure.

It is important to apply these principles and practices:

  • Backup your data: Create a copy of your important files. Commonly, you may be using USB memories and CD/DVDs to store your data. However, nowadays, cloud systems provide more flexible and reliable choices. UA Little Rock provides free access to Office 365 services and uses Google Services as well. You can upload your files and keep them in the cloud – both services provide encryption for your stored files.
  • Update your devices, applications and operating systems: Most of the attacks take advantage of vulnerabilities and software flaws in the applications and operating systems. Therefore, it is very important to enable auto-update and apply them as soon as possible.
  • Use End-Point-Security Solutions: Traditionally, they are called anti-virus software. Nowadays, end point security solutions contain anti-virus, firewall, intrusion-detection, and prevention systems in a single package. They all combine and work together to detect the attacks and protect your systems. Always keep end point security applications up and running and always remember to update them.
  • Protect your accounts: Your password is the most important component to protect your online identity. It is like the key to your house. Therefore it is very important to set your passwords as complex and hard to guess as possible. You can find recommendations on our IT Services website about creating complex passwords.  Some organizations also offer two factor authentication.  This is an additional method to authenticate who you are, such as sending a text message to your phone or using a specific application on your phone.  If two factor authentication is offered, enable and use it.
  • Stop.Think.Connect: While using the internet, just be careful and check what you are clicking. If you receive a link in an e-mail, it is not a good idea to follow it. Instead of clicking on the link, use your internet browser and go directly to the website you want to visit.

Modern browsers have security features to check the websites and if they are malicious, warnings will appear on your browser. Please take these warnings seriously and do not continue to follow the links.

“Free” is a very attractive word. Offering “free” software is the most common method to distribute malware. Therefore, please be very suspicious and careful about free offers in the internet.

If you need more information or if you cannot be sure whether you have a security problem, contact IT Services for assistance.

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