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Common Cyber Attacks and Avoiding Disaster

Protecting yourself and or your business from cyber-attacks should be a huge goal when it comes to better safety and security. The Department of Homeland Security urges individuals to protect their computers from infiltration not just for the individual’s protection, but because the federal, state, and local government offices can sometimes suffer from online invasions. By taking the necessary steps to protect your computer, you also can sleep well knowing that you’re taking away one of the tools that criminals have to compromise your life.

Email Security

Never click on a link in an email. Even when you trust the sender, you should copy the link first and then post it into a browser. Inspect the link to see if it has any .exe extensions, or looks suspicious. By right-clicking on the hyperlink, you can usually copy and paste it into a text editor to see if the link is suspicious. If you don’t know the recipient, simply don’t click on the link at all. Remember that any real notification sent by a bank or merchant should be available online in your member center, or by calling the organization directly. If you receive an email with an attachment, contact the retailer directly to inquire about the attachment.

Protect Personal Information

Social engineering attacks are designed to get information from your accounts that can then be used to get more personal information. These attacks are designed to let the hacker or virus gather enough information to attempt emptying your bank accounts, getting access to your computer files, or finding out information about a friend or family member. When you’re the victim of a social engineering attack, you may feel that you’re in contact with a trusted individual. Don’t trust anyone who calls you with your personal information. Ask the person who contacts you for their name and the company they work for. Then, call the company directly by looking for their official website and contact information and ask to speak with the person who contacted you.

Secure Your Computer

Brute-force attacks will attempt to guess your password for websites. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible to avoid this kind of attack. You can also use strong passwords and avoid the use of common words, phrases, or easily accessible information.

It’s also important to secure your computer. Staying updated on the latest operating system updates is just the beginning. You must also keep an anti-virus program running, and should keep all of your software updated. Make sure your firewall is on, and when possible, set up the option to use stealth mode on your firewall. This can be accomplished by setting your firewall to not respond to incoming network requests. Additionally, if you’re not using your computer, turn it off.

By taking the right steps to secure your computer, you can avoid getting caught up in a scam. Use common sense, and always verify any caller who attempts to contact you. It’s also important to ensure all of your mobile devices and hosted services are protected by antivirus software.

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