It's Cyber Security Month! And the more things change, the more they stay the same. The key advice for online self-defense I've given in the past is just as true now. So to help us all celebrate, I'm "re-featuring" a few articles I've run in the past.
Happy US Cyber Security Month! This partnership between Homeland Security, NCSA and MS-ISAC is an opportunity to recognize the importance of information security. How are you celebrating?
Last week I ran a couple of sessions at work on awareness and
security. Over the next few posts I will be reviewing some of the 3
themes I covered in a talk entitled "Online Self-Defense". You can view
the slides on my slideshare page. (actually, the talk focuses on just 2 of the themes but that's OK!). Since everything comes in threes (omne trium perfectum), I will give 3 easy tips for each theme (and some bonus tips as well).
The first theme is protecting your computer or device.
This series of posts is both for computer or device users who want to
take some (relatively) easy steps to protect themselves.
I'm also reaching out to information security professionals. Most
security pros understand these topics and concepts well, but find it
difficult to teach to others. Hopefully you can use the info here for
your own awareness program.
Malware finds its way
onto your computer or connected device in a number of ways, which I'll
cover in the final segment in this series. Of course, the best way to
combat malware is to not get it on your system in the first place! But
malware writers are tricksy. So what can we do?
Here are 3 simple things to do now:
Turn on automatic updates. Most systems, operating systems, browsers,
programs and apps have an update function. Problems are found in the
code, the support group creates a fix and sends out an update.
Computers, tablets and phones all have this. You can turn on Automatic
Updates for Windows or MacOS, and most of the applications on those
platforms. Your tablets and smart phones regularly offer updates, both
to the base operating system and the apps.
choose "automatic updates", unless you have a specific reason to not do
this. Be sure to keep your browser updated.
anti-malware software. Yes... Macs can get malware. And so can every
other platform. While malware on smartphones and tablets is still
developing, it is out there. There are many good free or inexpensive
choices of anti-malware products available for any platform. For
Windows, I'm a fan of Microsoft Security Essentials (free) or AVG (free). Sophos and ClamAV are two Mac choices. Lookout Mobile
is a product I like for android. But I'm not advocating one product
over another. There are many good choices and many good lists of choices
such as this, this and this.
If you don't need it, don't get it or get rid of it. The more things
you have installed, the more things you have update. If you have old
programs that you don't use, uninstall them. Maybe you were testing out a
few different photo processing programs or games, downloaded and
installed them, and chosen just one to use. The others should be
uninstalled. This is especially true for apps on smartphones and
tablets. It's too easy to download way too many apps. Keep the ones you
want, but get rid of those you don't need.
As a bonus, here are a few more tips. These are somewhat more advanced, or perhaps for the more adventuresome among you.
4. Use a "personal firewall". Both Mac and Windows come
with personal firewalls. The functionality differs but both are turned
on by default. Leave it on unless you have a specific reason to have it
5. Change the default password on your broadband
router. If you have home broadband then your service provider issued you
a router. Most people don't need to configure or change this router.
You should, however, change the default administrative password on this
router. There is too much variation to list the instructions here, but
your service provider can give you instructions or you can look up your
router model online.
Hopefully you can implement these suggestions soon, or have already done so.
What other suggestions do you have? How do you take care of the malware problem?
(next time: Online Self Defense - Part 2 - Passwords)