Tricks, Treats, and Tips: What to Really Be Afraid of this Halloween

As most of you know, October heralds a variety of festive autumn events such as the epic return of the pumpkin spice everything, Halloween, and the beautiful transition of fall foliage. October also happens to be National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which provides us an opportunity to shed light on everyday dangers that we face in our vastly connected world. In addition to things that go bump in the night and the occasional monster in our closet, we face a constant threat to our online security in both our corporate and home atmospheres. Below are some tips (not tricks, we promise!), that we hope, will help make accessing the internet a little less frightening.

Don’t Overshare Your Candy

  • Become familiar with and frequently review the privacy settings of your social networking and mobile applications. We are all guilty of quickly scrolling through the privacy terms that require acknowledgment upon app installation. Take a minute to stop and read them! You might not be aware of just how much access to your personal information you are providing to the app.
  • As tempting as it is, don’t share personal details like birthdays, full family member names, and be wary of who you accept to connect with on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms. Often, users make weak passwords consisting of birthdates or family names and fall victim to cyber-attack when this information is shared on public forums. Don’t let it happen to you! Make strong, individual passwords across all online accounts.
    • Add further security to your logon sequence by enabling two-factor authentication. Hackers target user passwords and when one has been compromised, it is not always immediately recognizable. You can enable a seamless and cost-effective solution using a combination of something the user knows (PIN or password), something the user owns (mobile device, token), or something the user is (fingerprint, retina).

When Trick or Treating, Turn Your GPS Off

  • Be wary of having your mobile GPS enabled and from sharing where you are at all times (like checking in on FourSquare or Facebook). By sharing with your friends where you/what you’re doing every hour of the day, you run the risk of alerting potential thieves that you’re not home and you could also be enabling hackers to gain access to any location information that you share on social media.

Back-up Your Goodies

  • Perform regular or scheduled backups of your data to safely stored drives or a cloud platform.

Be Sure to Use the Best Costume Available when Transmitting Data, Encryption

  • Encryption is the process of encoding your data so it’s not decipherable by anyone other than authorized parties. Always encrypt personal information sent over the internet by using a secure network or website. You can tell if a website is encrypted by looking for the “https” and SSL lock symbol at the beginning of the URL.

Don’t Open Links or Attachments from Spooky Sources

  • Just like you should never take candy from strangers, you should never click on unknown links or attachments as you could easily fall victim to phishing and ransomware Careless clicking can lead to the automatic download and installation of malicious software, which might lead to the loss of your precious data (see #2).

Enable Anti-virus/spyware Software, Stop Bogeymen in Their Tracks

  • Daily anti-malware scanners can help detect and prevent active threats to your system. It can also aide in safe web browsing by alerting you when you attempt to access an untrusted website.