Dave Kinsey 2014-07-26 00:21:15
The Internet is a vast ocean filled with all sorts of different creatures. Many are harmless, like the bottlenose dolphin, but once in a while you will encounter an aggressive shark. But no matter how powerful or intelligent these creatures are, they still wind up flopping around on the deck of some fisherman’s boat. Why? Because fishermen know what they’re looking for and how to capture it. The same can be said about Internet phishers. Internet phishers are the greasy, scummy pirates that are looking to loot your firm for all it’s worth. They can electronically steal your sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, through fake emails, pop-up scams, and other digital lures. This is generally done through a request for personal information, and is often fairly difficult to distinguish from the genuine article. But fear not these brigands! Here are some tips to avoid Internet phishing scams. Watch Where You’re Swimming The primary way phishers strike is by email. Always be wary, and never reply to emails from senders that you don’t recognize. These emails usually go directly to your spam folder, so be especially careful of anything in this folder. One tool that will act as a life jacket in a sea of spam is an enterprise-level spam security solution. It’s a key component for your IT security, so if your mailbox is overflowing with junk, that’s not just an annoyance, it’s a security risk you must fix. If a spam message makes it past your spam folder and lands in your inbox, look for subtle hints, such as lack of customization in signatures, or logos that just plain don’t look right. And never click on links in spam emails. If you still aren’t sure, carefully mouse over the link and see if it’s going somewhere you’d expect. If the URL looks a little fishy, you are probably being baited. In this case, it’s good to be coy. Venture Only into Secure Waters Not every website on the Internet is secure, but then again, you’re not likely to enter your personal information into every website you visit. Many phishers will try to get you to visit a website that looks like the real deal, but it won’t be encrypted. What this means is that hackers can access any data you input, and likely commandeer your computer, as well. Be very careful not to enter any sensitive information unless the URL is preceded by https://, which indicates that the web address is encrypted. Keep Your Treasure Chest to Yourself Absolutely, positively, never, ever share your personal information with a stranger, especially over email (or via message in a bottle). Anyone can access that data while it’s en route to its destination. Even if you’re sending your information to a trusted individual, it’s still a bad idea over email. Data can be compromised, and you don’t want to take that kind of risk. A legitimate company will offer you a better way for you to submit your sensitive information to them, like an encrypted form on their official webpage. Cast Your Own Nets of Protection One of the best ways to protect yourself from phishing attacks is to put up your own defenses. Strong network-based security defenses (not cheap firewalls) in your office combined with well-maintained antivirus software and patched operating systems will help keep your computer and data from being compromised, and help halt any attempt at getting to your personal information. However, even the best security solution can fall short if the security measures are bypassed because the PC user is tricked into thinking the message is legitimate. Therefore, the very best thing you can do is to educate yourself and your staff on what phishing scams to specifically look out for. What’s the Porpoise (sorry for all the fish puns) of This? Strong defense systems and educated staff help keep your information safe. It’s also critical to have your data backed up should something bad happen. The problem is, once a data breach has occurred, there’s no restore from backup to fix that, you’re just a fish out of water, and the consequences are dire. If you’d like a second opinion to help validate what you’re doing to keep the phisherman at bay, please feel free to send me an email. Thanks and safe computing, everyone! Have a question for the IT Expert? Email firstname.lastname@example.org Dave Kinsey is the owner and president of Total Networks. Total Networks is the technology partner to many law firms through out Arizona. Services include document management, backup and disaster recovery, business communications, and general IT support (for firms with or without in -house technical staff ).
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