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Cyber security awareness month: Six ways to keep you safe online

The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes the time of year where hackers try and profit the most.  Year after year we see an uptick of new malware, phishing campaigns, scams, malvertising, ransomware and data breaches. Hackers will look for any kind of vulnerability in your software, passwords, and emails.  

Since October is Cyber Security Awareness month, we thought we’d collaborate with our IT team and bring you six different ways that you can protect yourself (and your company) online.  

1. Don’t let your outdated apps make you vulnerable.   

Hackers can enter your computer network through outdated apps with known vulnerabilities. Make sure your employees know to install software updates and patches for applications and operating systems as soon as they’re available. This also improves the performance and stability of applications on your computer. 

2. The best password is a secure password. 

A good solution to remembering and using strong passwords is a reputable password management application. This stores passwords in one place, allowing people to generate strong, complex and random passwords that they don’t need to memorize. They only need to remember one password to unlock the app itself. Also – It’s better to have different passwords across all your accounts rather than just one password for every account. 

A few tips in password management:  

  • Try and create a strong password of at least 10 characters long and include a mix of numbers, symbols, upper and lowercase letters.  
  • Never write down passwords down on paper on your laptop or workstations.  

3. A good backup policy is key!  

 In the event of a disaster, such as a ransomware attack, you need to be able to recover critical data. Backups must also be tested to make sure files can be recovered. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to test whether data can be recovered. A good strategy is the 3-2-1 approach. Three backup copies, on two different types of media, with one copy stored securely offsite. 

4. Be wary of emails and attachments from sources you don’t recognize. 

Occasionally, your company might get a phishing email. These emails come from an unknown source and usually contain files for you to open. These emails sometimes ask for a favor to buy gift cards and send the code over in email. If you don’t know the person, looking at the email address itself can help identify if that person is a fake. Always ask IT if you are unsure.  

5. Follow company guidelines with software & hardware installs.  

Don’t install software or connect hardware to your business’s network without IT’s permission. Just don’t. It might be tempting, but you’re also opening your company up to possible malware which can steal all your client’s and company data, which can be disastrous for yourself and others.  

6. Keep your internet connection secure.  

Nowadays we’re fortunate enough to be able to work from home. In order to stay completely safe, make sure your internet connection is secured. Don’t connect your laptop to any unsecured network. There could be potential hackers waiting on their network to take advantage of someone that isn’t protected. If you wish to choose to work nearby at a local café, we’d suggest using a VPN which can help protect you from potential threats.  

We hope these tips helped, and that throughout the month, you’ll spend time assessing your digital behavior, optimize your security, and stay in-the-know with security threats.

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