Six Steps to Protect Yourself Against Cyber-Crime
Author – Galina Datskovsky
There is only one thing certain in today’s world, and that’s uncertainty. It was certainly driven home by the election results, where everyone was certain of the outcome until they were not. It is disconcerting to live in this environment. From random terrorist attacks to unprecedented economic and geopolitical events, we need to almost block out the news cycle. In order to survive in this environment, it is important to make a list of things that are in your control and those that are not. You have to make a conscious effort to put the ones not in your control simply out of your mind, as you cannot change or influence them. Those that are in your control should be prioritized and addressed. Take cyber security as an example. It is a mathematical certainty that most of us will be a victim of some type of cyber-attack / hacking at one point or another in our lifetime. (We will be lucky if it only happens once.) Unlike some things in our lives, the prevention is in your control, so how do you take steps to prevent becoming a victim of cyber-crime?
1. Put up your ‘wall’. Or in other words – make sure you put up your defenses. Whether you are an enterprise or an individual, make sure your perimeter is well protected. Make sure you have software such as intrusion detection, anti-virus, intruder alert and other such technology that prevents your perimeter from being penetrated.
2. Educate yourself. Use common sense and educate your organization and your family on what that a cyber threat looks like. Make sure you know what a phishing attack is and how it is presented; be careful opening email and following links. Make sure you talk about it and make people aware. The “this won’t happen to us” mentality will only get you into trouble.
3. Think smart. If it is not to be shared with the public, DO NOT write, take a picture of it or share it in a non-secure environment. Email and SMS text should be assumed vulnerable. Even if you are not hacked, a recipient of your message can decide to forward and share with the world on Facebook or Twitter.
4. Use the right tools. Have a secure method of communication for transmitting sensitive and personally identifiable information, like SS#, passport info, or your confidential business information.
5. Get rid of stuff you don’t need. Don’t keep records if you truly do not need them and have no regulatory reason for them. They will not be helpful and can only put you at additional risk during breach.
6. Always be prepared. Lastly, plan for the expected but always have a contingency plan in advance so if the unexpected happens you are prepared as well. This will help you, your company and or your family survive the biggest cyber storm.
On a personal note from my own experience using this set of metrics and list to prepare for something else in life I could ‘control’. I bought a generator just before the Y2K milestone. Thankfully I did not have to use it, but I was prepared. Since then, it has come in handy in multiple blackouts.
Following these steps of putting up your defenses, educating yourself, thinking smart, using the right tools, getting rid of stuff you don’t really need, and always being prepared will make you safer. It will make you feel better, more in control, and will help you weather the uncertain times of today.