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Protect your small business against viruses with these tips

It is September and it’s National Preparedness Month—a great time to get involved in the safety of your community. Make plans to stay safe, and this includes maintaining ongoing communications. National Preparedness Month culminates September 30th with National PrepareAthon! Day.It is September and it’s National Preparedness Month—a great time to get involved in the safety of your community. Make plans to stay safe, and this includes maintaining ongoing communications. National Preparedness Month culminates September 30th with National PrepareAthon! Day. I learned in high school biology class that one of the things that distinguishes life forms from inanimate objects is that living things replicate. Therefore, a computer virus is, well, alive; it replicates itself. It’s alive enough to cause billions of dollars of destruction from the time it attacks a computer network until the disaster is cleaned up. But just what is a computer virus? Not only does this nasty program file duplicate itself, but it can spread to other computers without human involvement. Unlike a virus with DNA, a tech virus usually doesn’t produce symptoms to give you an early warning. But it’s hell-bent on harming your network for financial gain. Though a virus is malicious, it may impersonate something harmless, which is why the user lets it in. One type of virus is spyware— which allows your computer to run smoothly as always, while the spyware enables criminals to watch your login activities. Though viruses often corrupt in secret, others can produce symptoms including:
  • Computer programs and smartphone applications open and close spontaneously.
  • Computer runs very slowly for no apparent reason.
  • Someone you know emails you about the global email you recently sent out promoting a product you have nothing to do with.
You can protect yourself or your business from a virus in the following ways:
  • A malment is a common way to let a virus into your computer. This is a malicious attachment that, when clicked, downloads the virus. The email message tricks employees into clicking that attachment. Unless it’s been confirmed by the sender that you’ll be receiving an attachment shortly, never open attachments. Or at a minimum, scan them with antivirus software.
  • Never open an attachment sent out of the blue by the IRS, company bank, credit union, medical carrier, etc.
  • Apply the above rules to links inside emails. A “phishing” email is designed to look legitimate, like it came from the bank. Click on the link and a virus is released. Or, the link takes you to a site that convinces you to update some login credentials—letting the hacker know your personal information.
  • Never use public Wi-Fi unless you have a VPN (virtual private network) encryption software.
  • All devices should have continually updated security software including a firewall.
  • Browser and operating system as well should be updated with the latest versions.
  • Prevent unauthorized installations by setting up administrative rights.
  • Employees, from the ground to the top, should be aggressively trained in these measures as well as bring-your-own-device protocols.
  • Back up your data. Why? Because when all else fails and your data and devices have been destroyed by malware, a cloud backup allows you to not only recover all your data, but it helps you sleep at night.
The prevention tactics above apply to businesses and really, everyone. Employees should be rigorously trained in how malware works and other tricks that cyber thieves use. To learn more about preparing your small business against viruses, download Carbonite’s e-book, “5 Things Small Businesses Need to Know about Disaster Recovery.” ____________________ #1 Best Selling Author Robert Siciliano CSP, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com is a United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla Staff Officer of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security whose motto is Semper Paratus (Always Ready). He is a four time Boston Marathoner, Private Investigator and is fiercely committed to informing, educating, and empowering people so they can be protected from violence and crime in the physical and virtual worlds. As a Certified Speaking Professional his “tell it like it is” style is sought after by major media outlets, executives in the C-Suite of leading corporations, meeting planners, and community leaders. Disclosures.

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft affects millions of people each year. You can learn how to make protecting yourself from identity thieves part of your daily routine.Identity theft affects millions of people each year. You can learn how to make protecting yourself from identity thieves part of your daily routine. __________________ The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the nation’s consumer protection agency. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace.

Internet of Things Security Issues

I’ve written before about the Internet of Things (IoT) and some of the privacy and security issues that IoT raises. Yes, there are some very helpful benefits from having so many of our devices inter-connected. I’ve written before about the Internet of Things (IoT) and some of the privacy and security issues that IoT raises.  Yes, there are some very helpful benefits from having so many of our devices inter-connected. Yet there are security and privacy concerns that individuals need to keep in mind.  The number of devices someone chooses to have connected will depend on her comfort level.  Do you want your thermostat letting the power company know your daily routine, e.g., the daily times of your shower and your departure from home? Other issues are nicely outlined in an article by Omri Toppol that Graham Cluley has as a link on his newsletter (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; “What is the Internet of Things, and Why Should We Care about Its Security”; August 3rd). The article by Omri provides several chilling examples of the dangers inherent in the IoT.  One example in the article is the 2010 hacking in Austin, Texas of over 100 cars which were remotely disabled.  The hacker or hackers disabled the cars by hacking into an online vehicle immobilization service. I encourage people to read this article if for no other reason to learn more about the IoT — what’s already happening, what could happen in the not too distant future and then being able to decide a personal comfort level. _________________ Ms. Diener is now an independent consultant on privacy, identity management, information protection and risk management. She served in senior managerial, legal, policy and legislative positions in all three branches of the Federal government. In addition to her privacy expertise, Ms. Diener played a lead role on such important domestic and international issues as criminal justice/law enforcement and financial services. She speaks frequently at industry and governmental conferences and meetings.

Security Credit Freezes: Now Might Be The Time

The 4+ million current and former federal employees whose OPM personal data has been hacked are just the latest group to be worrying about identity theft. So a recent article by Brian Krebs could not be more timely. The 4+ million current and former federal employees whose OPM personal data has been hacked are just the latest group to be worrying about identity theft.  So a recent article by Brian Krebs could not be more timely.  Mr. Krebs has written a terrific piece on the various options that individuals can take to try and prevent themselves from becoming identity theft victims.  While there are no guarantees about any option being foolproof, his recommendations are ones to learn about and then decide whether to use (www.krebsonsecurity.com; “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Security Freeze”; June 8th). One of his key points is the difference between putting a “fraud alert” or a “security freeze” on credit reports.  A “security freeze” is the stronger tool since “freezing” a credit report means it can’t be viewed or pulled by potential creditors without the individual giving specific consent.  Is it free to do so?  That depends on 2 key factors: has the individual been an identity theft victim? and what are the requirements for the State in which the individual lives.  Some States require a $10.00 or more fee if the individual hasn’t been an identity theft victim. A  link to a list of the States with their respective requirements can be found in Mr. Krebs’ article.  Additionally, that requirement will pop up when filling out a “freeze” form online with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  Once an individual does so, the fee amount for the State in which the individual resides will come up.  These requests can also be done in writing and those details can be found on the website for the 3 credit agencies just mentioned. It would be great if these “freezes” could be done for free before becoming an identity theft victim.  Is it worth the money to do so before that reality?  My answer is “yes” but everyone has to decide for himself. ___________________ Ms. Diener is now an independent consultant on privacy, identity management, information protection and risk management. She served in senior managerial, legal, policy and legislative positions in all three branches of the Federal government. In addition to her privacy expertise, Ms. Diener played a lead role on such important domestic and international issues as criminal justice/law enforcement and financial services. She speaks frequently at industry and governmental conferences and meetings.