Welcome to week one of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). Our theme of the week is the simple steps you and your employees can take to ensure you remain safe online. Focusing on individual and security concepts outside of the workplace is a great way to build overall security awareness in general. The most important step is to learn how to recognize the danger—what are the threats to your personal information, and where are they most likely to come from?
I do a lot of public speaking on issues of security across the country, and one of my favorite questions to ask the audience is how many of them have received some kind of fraud alert from a credit card or bank. Just in the past year, the amount of people who raise their hand has gone up to about 50%, which is a significant increase over what I’d seen previously, even just a year earlier. There’s no question that more people are being affected by cyber crime, and everyone needs to know how best to protect their information.
It’s important to remember that the Internet provides anonymity, so it’s very possible that you might not know who’s on the other end of a connection. Are you sending your information over a secure connection? Or is it being intercepted by a scammer halfway around the world? You have to stop and think before you click. Does it make sense to enter your personal information into a poorly-created form? Is your credit card company asking you questions that are not expected—or not appropriate—based on your account setup to reset your password? Don’t click on a link or enter information anywhere that seems even a little bit suspicious or unfamiliar.
Another critical step to make sure you’re running security protection on your home systems. Scan your machines on a regular basis for threats that could occur, as well as for viruses or spyware that may already be on your machine. Doing that on a regular basis helps ensure your sensitive information remains secure and protected. It’s also key to do some form of self-assessment: check your bank statements and transactions every single day for signs, such as purchases you did not make, that your identity may have been compromised.
Online safety is definitely a very essential topic. If your employees are learning and practicing good techniques in the workplace, they’re taking them home. If they’re taking the proper security precautions at home, they’re bringing them back into the workplace. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.