Leaving your network unprotected is like leaving your doors unlocked. We need to think of the internet as windows and doors into our homes. If left at risk, perpetrators can sneak in and take what they want before we ever become aware. Unfortunately, the stolen information and damage left behind can be far more serious than a stolen TV. Fortunately, ways exist to secure your internet in the same way you can protect your home and your family.
Staying informed and acting on informed information goes a long way toward keeping your data safe. To assist digital users, Global Learning Systems offers products for and courses on internet safety.
Follow these five steps to establish a secure internet connection.
- Put Up A Wall – Firewalls block unsolicited incoming connections, a valuable protection for your computer. Much like the fire-rated drywall in your garage, a computer firewall stops a virus (a “fire”) from spreading should it lodge in your system. Use the firewall on your computer or install a third-party product, and be sure to configure them correctly.
- Install Security Software – While not foolproof, the best means of keeping your information safe on the computer involves listening to the advice of experts. Installing and maintaining security software is similar to equipping your home with an alarm system. Antivirus software protects your computer system from unknown attackers.
- Encrypt – Encryption scrambles information over the internet to prevent the content from being deciphered. Choosing the strongest form of encryption that your devices support provides the best protection for your data. Another helping aid is not to name networks with words that tell something about you, your personal life, or divulge your geographic location.
- Maintain Current Software And Updates – Using a secure, supported operating system and updating software keeps you protected. Software updates identify and correct security issues. Left unpatched, these problems could allow attackers to find gaps in your computer security. Updating, even allowing automatic updates, protects you.
- Set Guest And Internal Networks – Creating two accounts enables guests to use your connection without access to personal files. Think of it as letting your guests sit at your table, even sleep over, but not giving them the freedom to explore the file cabinet. Guest network passwords require simplicity to be user-friendly, but should change regularly to block unwanted access and bandwidth drain.
Once you have taken the proper steps to secure your internet connection it’s imperative that you take the necessary steps to stay protected.
- Practice Password Know-how – The strength of your password protects accounts. A reasonably long combination of letters, numbers and symbols guard against password fraud. Personal or business names should not be used in passwords. Also, changing passwords regularly further protects your information. Password security also includes varying your passwords. A breach at one site leads to at-risk accounts across the board if you use the same login. Commercial password managers can help you track your passwords and reduce the inconvenience. Finally, and most importantly, do not share your passwords!
- Handle Sensitive Data Sensitively – Sensitive data by definition should be handled with care and consideration. When creating files, avoid labeling with Social Security Numbers or data specific to a person. Limit user access to information that each employee needs to do the job effectively. Access to unnecessary sensitive data presents risks.
- Be on Guard – Employees should be made aware of ways to guard against internet security breaches. The behavior of employees on company devices and in the office may put your business at risk.
- Limit Information Shared – One primary means of securing your data involves limiting the quantity and quality of personal information you share over the web. Attackers cannot access what was never put out there. This includes social media such as Facebook!
- Be Alert to Scams – Phishing is a criminal activity in which attackers gather sensitive information through email. Be aware that banks and credit cards do not request personal information through email. Be sure to question claims of this kind. Contact the institution directly, not using any link in the suspicious email, to confirm the email and always log in to the company’s site directly.
- Avoid the Unfamiliar and Random – Like a lesson about “stranger danger” would teach a child, it is important to understand that you only should download and run software from reliable software companies or official company sites. The same holds true for emails and attachments. Do not open attachments from unfamiliar senders. Also, avoid random links as they may take you to other places with harmful consequences. Verify all links and emails before clicking by checking with the purported company through its official website, or phone it.
- Stay Away From Pirated Software – Pirates are not known for their stellar reputations. Pirated or cracked software carries significant risk with its shady reputation as well. Malicious programs hidden in unauthorized software wreak havoc on computer systems. Make sure you trust the distributor before downloading.
Getting Information Back
Once information enters cyberspace, retrieval is not easy. You can take steps to delete it yourself from the internet, but those steps are not for the faint of heart or technologically insecure. Tenacity is required.
If the damage might already have been done, Global Learning Systems can help to educate you in preventing future situations. It offers courses, training and products to bring companies to awareness in secure internet protection.
Closing and locking the wireless access points of your business may seem an impossible task. Gather information. Act on what you learn. That way, reasonable protection of secure data will lie within your realm of possibility.