Guest blog post by Apparo’s Technology Advisor, Nate Liming.
Five ways to stay safe from cyber attacks against you, your nonprofit or your family.
It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year. Families and friends get together, businesses close, everything appears perfect, until it isn’t. While you are enjoying your time off and having the time of your life, bad actors are targeting you, your business, and your life. They are bankrupting hard working individuals that work so hard to give their families all they can give.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI – https://www.fbi.gov) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA – https://www.cisa.gov) have observed an increase in highly impactful ransomware attacks occurring on holidays and weekends—when offices are normally closed—in the United States, as recently as the Fourth of July holiday in 2021.
Here are 5 significant ways you can help yourself, your business, your organization, and your family to stay safe this holiday season. Need help applying any of these for your nonprofit?
1. Use Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
Multifactor authentication is an electronic authentication method in which a user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence. Some examples of this are your phone via SMS messages or an authenticator application. Authenticator apps are considered more secure than getting codes via SMS messaging. MFA should be the first thing you, as a user, should set up when creating an account or securing it.
2. Update to the Latest and Greatest
Every piece of technology you use is open to attack. Developers are always finding new security flaws. You must download and update the latest versions of the apps and software you’re using. It’s important to update your phone, tablets, computers, home routers, smart devices, and even TVs to the current firmware releases. All it takes is one vulnerable device to wreak havoc on your life.
3. Encryption is Your Friend
Beyond your messages and built-in encryption in applications, encrypting the files on your devices can help reduce the chances of your data being compromised. Use a strong password or PIN for all your devices. Additional effort is needed to encrypt data on your laptop or computer but can be done with research. It is essential that you as the user learn how to encrypt your private data.
4. Remove Your Past
The past can come back to haunt you. Old online accounts you no longer use can be weaponized against you. Hackers often use details from previous data breaches to access accounts. Minimizing the amount of information that’s available about your life online can help reduce your risk of being hacked. Find the old accounts you no longer use and delete them.
5. Social Engineering Education and Research
Social engineering is the art of manipulating people, so they give up confidential information. Bad actors want you to act first and think later. If the message conveys a sense of urgency or uses high-pressure tactics, be skeptical. Never let their urgency influence you. Legitimate companies and organizations do not contact you to provide help. If you did not specifically request assistance from the sender, consider any offer to help restore credit scores, refinance a home, answer your question, etc., a social engineering attempt. Knowledge is power and if you know what to look for, you already have an advantage.
Always remember, being secure can be inconvenient to your normal routines. It introduces additional steps you are not accustomed too. Cyber security should be considered just as important as physical security (locking the doors on your house, etc.). There is no definitive way to 100% prevent cyber hacking if you live in the 21st century. Be smart, think safety, and be safe.