Protect yourself from cybercriminals
If you know you are at risk for a wreck when riding a bike then you’ll wear a helmet right? It should be no different when using the Internet and computer technologies.Everyone is at risk for a wreck because attacks against individuals and families are growing. These attacks are increasing, in part due to major data breaches involving sensitive data on most Americans and widespread attacks against home networks (e.g., the Equifax breachand the recent VPN Filter malware).
Small home businesses, individuals, and families make easy targets because they are often unprepared for attacks from experienced cybercriminals. The Internet provides access to a wealth of information and resources, but a side-effect of that is information overload. When overwhelmed with information it becomes hard to tell what is real and what is fake. This noisy environment provides camouflage for attackers as they pretend to be a trusted person or they disguise their malicious software to appear familiar.
Below are steps you can take to protect yourself from cybercriminals.
1. Identify your personal and family risk.
One way to do this is by performing a self-assessment of threats and risks. In the cybersecurity field, we call this “Threat Modeling”. This methodology will help you avoid wasting time trying to secure yourself against unlikely threats.
The general idea is that everyone has different threats and a different level of overall risk. For example, a politician, a scientist, and a college student will all have a different risk profile. Everyone should work to understand their specific and realistic threats.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an excellent guide on how to do this. See Assessing Your Risks.
2. Get educated on cybersecurity basics.
Get started by reading up on the basics. There are many free resources:
- National Cyber Security Alliance – Stay Safe Online
- US-CERT – Home Network Securityand Securing a New Computer
If you have children, teach them the basics of what you learn. There are also various games and labs available that can help young people get interested in cybersecurity. Such as the NOVA Cybersecurity lab.
Once you get comfortable with the basics, you might decide to dig a little deeper. If you search, you will find more in-depth free courses available that dig into more advanced topics. Two examples are below:
- Futurelearn – Introduction to Cyber Security
- Microsoft – Security Fundamentals
3. Stay up-to-date and aware.
Families are constantly acquiring new Internet-connected devices which could open up channels for attack by cybercriminals. The risks inherent to this, along with social media, require us to stay up-to-date and be aware. Every family should have a plan for regularly updating their devices, reviewing their security, and refreshing their education on cybersecurity.
In summary, assess the risks and threats, build your knowledge of cybersecurity, and make a plan to continue improving your security. If effort is put into this, anyone can mitigate substantial risk and use technology safely.
Please check the VUIT News Blog frequently to stay abreast of the tools you can use to protect yourself from cybersecurity attacks. For more information on how to protect yourself, contact VUIT Security Operations at firstname.lastname@example.org.