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08/14/2018

10 Tips for End User Security

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These days, it is becoming more and more important to protect yourself on the internet. So to assist with that, I have decided to share my list of 10 Tips for End User Security. Hopefully my list gives you some ideas on how better to protect your online identity and accounts.

1 - You are an easy target
Remember that hackers will not always try difficult-to-hack IT departments or cyber security organizations first. Most often, they will direct their attacks on the “easy targets”. the “attractive targets”, in other words, you! Ask many a hacked individual and they will agree that “it will never happen to me” is the complete incorrect attitude to have. Rather assume they are out to get you, and protect yourself accordingly.

2 - Good password Management
Good password management is vital, and unfortunately, I have noticed that this is often the most neglected are of attention. Always make sure that you choose a good, strong password. Make sure that your password is complicated. Include uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers and even special characters. If possible, try to use a complicated phrase like for example: I l1ke B@tman b3tter th@n 007!

Also, make sure that you do not use the same password for different accounts and websites. Often, hackers will try various other sites and accounts, once they get access to your password. Keep in mind, that having to recover or fix one account is much better than having to recover or fix all of your social media accounts.

3 - Lock your devices when unattended
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You would never leave your house or car unlocked when you are away from it, so why would you leave your phone, laptop or PC unlocked when you are away from it. Unlocked and unattended devices is the perfect time for people with bad intentions to do something. Whether it is posting social media posts on your behalf, or installing key-loggers or even giving themselves access to your device, it is just not worth the risk.

Make sure that your device locks if it is not used for a few minutes and that you need to enter a password or pin to access it again. On any Microsoft Windows PC or Laptop, you can simply press the Windows Key and the “L” key at the same time, to lock your device.

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4 - Back it up
I can NOT tell you how many times a backup has saved me from disaster. I can also tell you that when disaster strikes, and users have no backup, the loss is sometimes devastating! These days, cloud backups are becoming more and more cost effective. If cloud backups is not an option for you, make sure that you make regular backups of your important data, to an external Hard Drive or memory stick.

Feel free to contact us should you require any information or services or software available for this.

5 - Beware of Pirated, Cracked or Free Software
Sometimes, the temptation to get pirated or cracked software instead of paying for it, is greater than our moral compass. This is exactly what some hackers will rely on and they often hide other malicious apps or code inside the pirated software. This means that you think you are getting Photoshop, but in the background, you have just given hackers access to your device. Rather spend the money and be safe and legal.

Similarly, you should be careful of Free Software from unknown vendors. Hackers will often create applications that users might be interested in. They also hide their malicious code or software inside the free software, hoping that users will install this and give them access.

6 - Get Antivirus for all your devices
These days, mobile device viruses, spyware or adware are rampant and we are seeing more and more infections. Users will often only get a decent Antivirus for their PC or laptops and neglect their mobile devices. This is a major risk, especially if you do banking, or connect to your social media accounts from your mobile device, whether it be a cell phone or a tablet. Make sure you are protected by getting and installing a trusted Antivirus. Remember, NO device is immune to infections or hacking!

7 - Beware when using public or unknown Wifi’s
Always beware of doing banking or sending and receiving confidential data when you are connected to public or unknown WiFi. This is often a go-to trick used by hackers. They go to a public space and broadcast an unsecured WiFi signal. Users sometimes pick it up and connect to it, thinking they are getting free internet from a unknowing user. What they don’t know is that hackers are able to capture all and any traffic sent and received through their unsecured WiFi signal. Before you know it, all your accounts or sites have been compromised.

8 - Software Updates
This is also often one of the most neglected priorities on end user minds. Often developers unknowingly let security vulnerabilities or bugs to go through when they release their applications. Once these bugs or security flaws are known, they will release updates to fix these identified issues. While it is sometimes very inconvenient, it is important to always try to make sure that you install the latest software updates for all your applications and devices.

9 - Be aware of suspicious emails
End users should be very vigilant when dealing with emails. Companies would very rarely give away amazing prizes to users who forward emails or messages to everyone in their contact list. Often, these messages contain links to suspicious websites designed to obtain as much information as possible. Similarly, if you have never ordered something from Russia, then you have to question why DHL in Russia have an undelivered package for you.

Be vigilant when dealing with emails. The general rule is that when in doubt, chuck. Rather phone your CEO and confirm that he needed you to make payment to an unknown recipient. Also, feel free to escalate any suspicious emails to your IT support technician. They can investigate and let you know if the email should be removed or replied to.

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10 - Be aware of clicking on links
This is one of those things hackers do more and more these days. They will send an email on behalf of a service you might use, like for example your bank. The email might look authentic and appear to come from the correct source. However, when you hover your mouse over the link, you will notice that it points to a complete different domain destination. This is highly suspicious and you should not follow the link.

These are only a few tips to help you stay clear of those darn hackers. There are many other points to consider also. But, at the end of the day, it all boils down to being prepared and vigilant. If you are careful enough, chances are that you will be less likely to be compromised.

Willie Strydom - 02:54:28 @ Privacy, Personal View, IT Security | Add a comment