Do you lock your doors and windows at night? Do you lock your car before entering the mall to shop or see the latest Hollywood extravaganza? I bet you do. I’d also be willing to bet that a large percentage of us do not “lock” our computers in a sufficient manner or use best practices when online or handling email. When we do lock our doors – we leave the keys in the door too often. An old proverb says: Locking your doors only keeps the honest people out. Well, criminals use sophistication and have the skills to enter through locked doors, yes – but why make it easy on them? The Are Your Doors Locked? Series of blogs will address numerous security concerns and action you can take to protect yourself. Let’s start with phishing…
We ask that you follow the following 11 basic rules when handling ALL email regardless of the sender:
RULE 1: Do not respond to or follow links in any message that purports to come from your bank or another business asking you to update or validate your account information — or to provide other personal details.
RULE #2: Delete such emails and never open attachments that accompany it. This type of email is called Phishing.
The practice of soliciting such information via email should be considered as a sign that you are reading an email from a source other than the organization they are purporting to be. Providing the information requested in these emails will lead to your victimization and can lead to the theft of your identity and make you a victim of fraud.
RULE#3: Never click on a link anywhere until you have hovered over it with your mouse pointer to see what the actual URL is.
RULE #4: Never click on links in emails that ask you for account information.
RULE #5: Never type personal information into a pop up window. You may be at a legitimate site but with a pop up that appears on your hijacked browser that is from a criminal.
RULE #6: Always use a firewall, SPAM filters as well as anti-virus, spyware and malware protection. ALWAYS keep all of these security items up-to-date. Update these programs daily.
RULE#7: Using the programs in rule 5 – scan your systems frequently to detect any malicious software or bug on your systems.
RULE#8: ALWAYS keep your operating system up-to-date. Microsoft and other operating system providers release updates often that take care of security issues on the computer. Microsoft releases critical updates the second Tuesday of every month.
RULE#9: ALWAYS keep your applications up-to-date. Like operating systems, unpatched software has vulnerabilities that are easily exploitable by criminals.
RULE#10: Never open or click on attachments unless you are expecting them and know who the sender is.
RULE#11: Change your passwords frequently and use STRONG passwords with upper and lower case letters numbers as well as special characters.
You must act very quickly if you have been a victim and have provided passwords, PIN’s, account numbers or any personal identifiable information. You must contact all companies that these accounts are held with and ask them to assist and also place fraud alerts on your accounts.
These are basic rules and must be observed at all times. Environmental awareness when you are in a dark parking lot is a critical part of personal physical security. Vigilance and awareness when computing is a critical part of protecting your financial resources and the computing resources you use daily in your work and business.
If you have been a victim this type of scam or would like to read more – The Federal Trade Commission provides some valuable information and guidance on the topic: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt127.shtm. The identity theft site at the FCC is: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/