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Cybercrime: Some Simple Tips to Lower Your Risk

Posted by David on 7/17/2014
Security certainly takes on many different forms now, as businesses and homes are under attack not just by human criminals, but also by digital ones now. Everything in our home or business - a TV, a laptop, desktop, mobile device - sometimes even your microwave or refrigerator! - can be subject to a hacking or malware attack jut by having a computer chip in it that creates a language that the appliance or device understands to execute functions.

Cyber-crime - which is the umbrella term for all of these various digital compromises - has been steadily rising, even as warnings go out that our personal information is at risk. Unless it happens to us, we don't really think much about it. 

But there are steps you can take to at least mitigate your risk of being a victim of a cyber attack. These steps won't eliminate every threat, but as most attacks are found from lax execution of these steps, doing these will help you and your data be safer, whether at home or at work.
  • Update. Most attacks  can come from attacks on old versions of software. When your system is notified of an update, install the update as soon as possible - newer software often has fixes for those exploits, which blocks the door for hackers.
  • Passwords. Be creative with them, and change them often (every three to six months is recommended). Don't have the saved password for multiple sites - even a small change can be sufficient. 
  • Be suspicious. Any email you get that does not look familiar, delete it before opening, even if it says you won a lottery. 
  • Backup. Keep a backup of files - especially ones that have some value and importance. The backup should be updated regularly and be in the cloud or on an external drive.
  • Basic security. Whatever anti-virus or anti-spyware software you have, make sure it runs a scan regularly (every week or sooner) and make sure you get the latest updates installed.
  • Remember all your tech. Your PC or laptop may be where most of your work and files originate, but if you have similar files on a mobile device or another computer, always make sure these steps are taken with those devices as well. Don't neglect your smartphone, even if you rarely share files with your desktop. If your device shares e-mail, then your mobile device can face the same risks.