We would, of course, be the last folks to tell you to stay off the Internet but we also have to be smart and acknowledge the Internet is a scary place.
Working in the digital spaces these days is certainly not without its threats and risks. It remains in many ways the wild, wild west of the 19th Century real life (at least as depicted in Hollywood moves) where anything goes and criminal behavior runs rampant and often unchecked. The digital world is very much a lawless frontier.
And while being a lawless frontier by design and intention has fantastic rewards it also has its risks. Those risks continue to grow at alarming rates and every participant in the digital spaces needs to be smart, cautious. circumspective and wary.
“Symantec discovered more than 430 million new unique pieces of malware in 2015, up 36 percent from the year before,” explains the report’s executive summary. “Perhaps what is most remarkable is that these numbers no longer surprise us. As real life and online become indistinguishable from each other, cybercrime has become a part of our daily lives. Attacks against businesses and nations hit the headlines with such regularity that we’ve become numb to the sheer volume and acceleration of cyber threats.”
We know we experience that kind of numbness, too, when a client’s website or other component of the digital sphere gets hit. Not shock. Not awe. Just another day at the office: “Okay, no panic. Let’s fix it.”
“In 2015, the number of zero-day vulnerabilities discovered more than doubled to 54, a 125 percent increase from the year before,” Symantec says. “Or put another way, a new zero-day vulnerability was found every week (on average) in 2015. Given the value of these vulnerabilities, it’s not surprising that a market has evolved to meet demand.”
Zero-day vulnerabilities are “holes” within software – any software – which can be found and exploited by criminals and others before the software owner or user is even aware the holes exist. It’s become a constant battle to patch, fix while criminals try to stay ahead of the game.
The Stay Safe Online website is a very good resource for educating oneself about threats and protections against those threats.
We don’t have any special insight here at Relevanza into the problem – no more than anyone else. We’re not online security specialists. But we can, like you, make it a regular part of our service and our daily routine to read as much as we can about threats, new threats, possibilities and try to keep ahead of the bad guys as they try to stay ahead of us.
Perhaps the lesson here is that all of us, professionals and Internet users alike, need to become experts. At least, we need to become more aware and better educated – as a matter of course – about the potential online threats we all face.
Keep A Clean Machine.
- Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
- Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
- Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
- Plug & scan: “USBs” and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
Protect Your Personal Information.
- Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
- Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
- Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
- Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.
- Own your online presence: When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit who you share information with.
Connect With Care.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
- Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.
Be Web Wise.
- Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
- Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.
- Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.
Be a Good Online Citizen.
- Safer for me more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
- Post only about others as you have them post about you.
- Help the authorities fight cyber crime: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general as appropriate.