Cybersecurity 101 – Back to the Basics
Barely a day goes by without news of an organization being hacked and sensitive information taken for ransom. The digital revolution has subjected all of us to the threat of identity theft which can lead to life crippling circumstances such as a fraudulent loan or depleted bank account. As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated it is always necessary to ensure there is a well-strategized and complex security solution to combat them. In most cases, however, even the most sophisticated attacks can be prevented by implementing basic security fundamentals.
A Strong Password
Passwords provide the first line of defense to an attack yet we get frustrated when the one that is the easiest to remember is not long enough, strong enough, or has the needed special characters. Without careful consideration we may enter whatever it takes to get by the error and tend to more pressing matters of the day. That will suffice until the next login when the unique character entered in haste is forgotten and the cycle repeats itself. The few minutes it takes to enter and maintain a strong password are well worth it considering the potential consequences of not. Password safeguards plus multi-factor authentication are the first critical barrier between you and a cyber predator.
How often have you ignored the pop-up windows that notify you of software updates available for your pc or mobile device? Dismissed because ‘now’ is not a good time. We live in the information age, it’s fast and furious, we are tethered to our devices…it’s never a good time. And doesn’t it always happen at just the worst time? While in the midst of deadlines and chaos your high-performing pc comes to a screeching halt. Whether it’s a flashing error, blue screen, or you no longer have control of your keyboard…it’s not good. The majority of cyber attacks are against known flaws and vulnerabilities that software updates and patches are made to fix. Like changing the oil in your car, running software updates should be an intentional and preventative step for the health of your devices and protection against attacks.
Think Before You Click
Just like we tell our children, think before you click. Billions of dollars are spent every year for online advertising and we are desensitized to the amount of information consumed. It’s critical that we stop and think before clicking on unfamiliar links or freely providing information to online inquiries. Make it personal policy to not click on links or messages from people you do not know or from Not Safe for Work (NSFW) websites. Just as you would not offer your personal information to a stranger on the street do not provide it to an online stranger before validating the source. Practicing hypervigilance with cyber interactions can help protect your personal space and keep hackers at bay.
While this information may seem rudimentary, we must continually keep it in the forefront for the protection of both personal and national interest. The Colonial Pipeline attack is an unfortunate example of how a single compromised password took down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. and led to shortages across the country. It was also reported in a recent Bloomberg article by William Turton and Kartikay Mehrotra titled, “Hackers Breached Colonial Pipeline Using Compromised Password” that the hackers stole nearly 100 gigabytes of data and were paid a ransom of $4.4 million dollars. A big price to pay for not incorporating the most basic cybersecurity fundamental: a strong password.
DTSI Cyber Account Executive