Stop. Think. Connect

Throughout 2016, we’ve talked about information security and some of the ways you can up your game in protecting yourself at work and at home:

  • Being aware that you are a target for phishing, ransomware, scams, and theft
  • Updating your computer and devices -- clean machines!
  • Backing up your important data to an offline device
  • Using reputable apps and only from your app store
  • Destroying data before you dispose of devices
  • Setting new passwords on Internet of Things devices and keeping them updated
  • Using strong passwords/pass phrases and not re-using them for different accounts
  • Using public wi-fi with caution
  • Shop, bank and game only with HTTPS websites -- preferably NOT on a public network
  • Limiting the personally identifiable information your post online
  • Protecting your accounts with 2-factor authentication

This month, we want to round up these strategies with the easy-to-remember mantra: Stop. Think. Connect.*

Stop: Before you click that ad or pop-up, open that email attachment, or enter personal information online.
Think: Could this ad be bad? Is this email phishy? Am I entering appropriate information at a secure (https) website?
Connect: Connect with confidence knowing that you have taken precautionary measures for a secure online experience.

*STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ is a global online safety awareness campaign led by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help digital citizens stay safer and more secure online. For more information, visit https://www.stopthinkconnect.org/.

Safe Holiday Shopping

And since this month is also a busy time for online shopping, it’s opportune to remind you of safe shopping strategies from the National Cyber Security Alliance:

Lock down your login: One of the most critical things you can do in preparation for the online shopping season is to fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.

Keep clean machines: Before searching for that perfect gift, be sure that all web-connected devices – including PCs, mobile phones, smartphones and tablets – are free from malware and infections by running only the most current versions of software and apps.

Know your stuff: When using a new website for your holiday purchases, read reviews and see if other customers have had a positive or negative experience with the site.

Insist on HTTPS: To ensure that you are entering payment information securely, look to the left of your address bar and only shop on sites that begin with “https” not “http” (the s stands for secure).

Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: If you are out and about, limit the type of business you conduct over open public Wi-Fi connections, including logging in to sensitive accounts like email and banking. Adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your information.

Be alert for scammers: The holidays tend to be very busy times for us all, and the bad guys know this. Using email, social media posts and even text messages, they will be out there trying to get us to click on links, open documents or share personal information that we shouldn’t. So have your antennae up for things that seem suspicious, like urgent notices about failed transactions or shipping issues, and be alert to offers that have pricing way below what every other merchant is offering.

You'll find more information from the NCSA about safe online shopping here.