How many emails do send and receive every day? Email is highly vulnerable to cyber attack, but you may not even notice it when it occurs! Let’s face it, our world is changing faster than we’d like. Since the onset of COVID-19 our world has been thrown into a persistent spin-cycle that can disorient even the most seasoned technical professional. So what chance do the rest of us have at keeping ahead of the changes?
How can we protect ourselves from a world full of online criminals that seek to do us harm? Just so you can see what you are dealing with, malware is not just one thing. Malware is any software that is designed to cause damage to your computer, a server, or a computer network. There are many types of malware out there: computer viruses, worms, spyware. adware. scareware. ransomeware, and Trojan horses, which carry malware in seemingly benign emails. A computer virus is a program with coding that, when opened, can replicate itself by modifying your other computer programs and inserting its own code. When a computer virus is successful, the result can be devastating to your computer AND your personal data.
The trick to protecting your computer and your personal data is to start small. Technology is overwhelming, and it is only going to get worse. In this page we show you three simple tips to help you lock down the number-one piece of your online identity that is frequently abused and stolen. Your email. Your email is a vulnerable avenue for criminals to damage not only your computer, but it also makes you vulnerable to other types of cyber crime!
Just so you can see what you are dealing with, malware is not just one thing. Malware is any software that is designed to cause damage to your computer, a server, or a computer network. There are many types of malware out there: computer viruses, worms, spyware, adware, scareware, ransomeware, and Trojan horses, which may carry malware in seemingly benign emails. A computer virus is a program with coding that, when opened, can replicate itself by modifying your other computer programs and inserting its own code. When a computer virus is successful, the result can be devastating to your computer AND your personal data.
Your email is linked to so MANY aspects of your online existence that, if your email address became compromised, it could literally affect every facet of your life almost instantaneously. Think about it. Your email is linked to your social media accounts, your credit card accounts, your bank accounts. What could someone take from you that you keep in your email? It might be a fair guess that you probably use the same three or four passwords for all your different accounts. About 86% of the population falls into this category. We are creatures of habit; most of the time they are more bad habit than good. Duplicating passwords is the #1 bad habit to have when working online. This is where tip #1 comes in.
Tip #1 – Password Vaults.
Keep it complex…by keeping it simple. A password vault is a software program that keeps a number of passwords in a secure digital location. By encrypting the password storage, the password vault offers users the ability to use a single master password for accessing a number of different passwords used for different websites or services.
Investigate these three top-notch Password Vaults: Dashlane (has free account and Virtual Private Network (VPN) with some account packages). Keeper has a free account with limits. Bitwarden is free and open source. These are three password vault services that protect every online login and password you have ever created. These services allow you to log in to all your sites without having to remember passwords. The concept is extraordinarily simple. Remember your master password and the password vault will store the rest. It’s much easier to remember a SINGLE password than 200 individual passwords. This is our #1 email security tip. Manage your passwords and you are lightyears ahead of the game!
Tip #2 – Two Factor Authentication. (2FA)
Two-factor authentication is simply this: something you know (your password), and something you HAVE…like an email address or a cell phone. Two-factor authentication works like this. You log in to your email with your user name and password – that (hopefully) you have saved securely in your password vault. See Tip #1.) Then, your email provider (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo.mail, etc.) sends you a text message or calls you with a verification code that you enter. This is 2FA. Employing 2FA is the most secure way to ensure that you…and ONLY you are accessing your emails. 2FA can also alert you when someone is trying to access your email without your knowledge. If you are not using 2FA with your email account you put yourself at risk! 2FA is easy to set up through your email settings!
Tip #3 – Anti-Virus & Anti-Malware Software
While viruses and malware are often interchangeable terms, they really are two separate critters. Both, however, are used for PHISHING! You don’t want either one on your computer, and both primarily find their way onto your system through email. Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is the fraudulent practice of sending emails pretending to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
Because of this threat, you want to invest in a well-known antivirus /anti-malware bundle. An antivirus/anti-malware bundle is worth the modest cost. These applications will provide real time scanning of all emails to let you know if something looks phishy. This is probably the easiest step to ensure that you are protecting yourself, and your email. The cost of antivirus and/ or anti-malware is minimal compared to the costs of dealing with identity theft and credit card fraud! Two good products to investigate are Sophos and Malwarebytes They offer multiple levels of service at relatively low cost.
Still have QUESTIONS?
Our friends at Rocky Mountain Technical Solutions will be happy to provide some guidance free of charge. Just tell them you saw this information on the Associated Insurance Marketing website.