My last blog post discussed ransomware, one of the fastest growing and most expensive forms of malware.  Since this month is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, I only thought it appropriate to write more on this topic.  This post focuses on some of the measures you can take to help reduce the possibility that you will be targeted by ransomware, or by any malware for that matter.  The protective methods presented here are not comprehensive; there are many other resources available.  None alone will be 100 percent effective, but used together, they should help deter all but the most determined cybercriminal.  Are you doing enough?

First, there is much to read and learn from National Cyber Security Alliance’s website.  I’d encourage you to spend some time familiarizing yourself with what the group shares as a starting point in your quest to be more secure online.

A recent article in the highly authoritative “Windows Secrets” weekly e-zine highlighted the rapid rise in phishing attacks.  Not only are the attacks coming through email, but now also by phone and by Facebook.   Some reports claim that about three of every four people have experienced a phishing attack.  While the attack itself is benign, if you fall for the bait, you might have a long string of trouble.  On the Facebook side, you must be very careful with the personal information you choose to share — it is surprising how very little information can lead a criminal to your digital doorstep!  Click here to read the helpful article yourself.

Finally, you may have heard that passwords are on the way out.  This is true, however, it is going to take many years for a reasonable replacement to become commonplace.  Until then, we must continue to use passwords as our most effective means of locking out the unwanted.  I wish to highlight two free products that will help you with your passwords: “How Big is Your Haystack” by Gibson Research, and KeePass Password Safe.  The Gibson website will help you understand how much more difficult you can make your password to crack by using a few simple tips (like always using uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols in your passwords).  Then, after you follow those tips and have new passwords for every site and application, KeePass will help you organize and maintain those passwords.  KeePass has been in use by our ITS department for over 10 years.

Keep safe!

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