During these last few months, we have seen a barrage of online security attacks ranging from the security vulnerabilities and malicious links that wrecked havoc on Twitter to the Stuxnet worm computer attacks on Iranian soil. The month of October has been declared as National Cyber Security Awareness Month and is aimed at educating the masses about protecting themselves from cyber predators and perpetrators.
Stop.Think.Connect. is the rallying cry that is being broadcast to the millions of Internet users in the U.S. to garner support and crack down on the security breaches that plague the oft enjoyable although sometimes deplorable online experience. With awareness being recognized nationally, you can also begin to educate your customers on safe online practices and tips to keep their computers and other devices from being victimized.
Install Security Software and Firewalls
By now, most of your customers are aware of security suites that are available from Trend Micro, AVG, and Symantec that can scan and detect threats that are found on their computers. Most Internet security suites do contain some provisions to scan for spyware; however, they are generally not comprehensive enough to remove critical malware which is the primary focus of this year’s Cyber Security campaign. Malware exploits have reached heightened levels and software that is specifically geared towards its detection and removal such as Webroot Spy Sweeper and Ad-Aware Total Security work ideally in conjunction with anti-virus software for maximum protection. In addition to anti-virus and anti-spyware software, your customers will need to ensure that they have a firewall enabled at all times on their computers whether it be the integrated Windows Firewall, firewalls contained within an Internet security suite, or independent firewalls such as Zone Labs’ Zone Alarm or Comodo Firewall. Security software is essential and must be used appropriately for the best results.
Update Software Regularly
Having all the right flavors of security software installed on a computer will be virtually useless if the software is not updated as updates become available. Security vendors identify numerous threats daily, and if the security software being used does not contain the latest definitions, this makes for a vulnerable computer that is likely to be compromised. Your customers may require instruction on basic updates and program configuration but can always refer back to the manufacturer’s website for additional assistance. Operating systems, browsers, and any other security software installed also require attention in the form of updates. Your customers can be assisted in setting their security software to update automatically if this feature is available. Additionally, many operating systems contain task schedulers that can be configured to alert customers when a program requires action.
Guard Your Privacy
The Internet is a vast array of problems waiting to happen if your customers do not guard their privacy. Accessing websites, links, and other unknown content can expose them to identity and data theft and allow cyber predators to pounce on their systems’ security loopholes. They should never enter personal information if the source is unknown, which is also true for social networking sites because oftentimes, cyber predators know that users trust these sources and tend to think that their information is protected. Your customers can learn to encrypt sensitive data and ensure that passwords are not easily guessed. Microsoft offers a password checker tool that can be supplied to determine how secure a password may be. Other measures that can be taken to guard privacy include using secure websites (https://) and not accessing ‘open’ wireless networks.
These security tactics may seem overwhelming at times, but the key to ensuring that your customers can have (almost) worry-free online experiences is to educate and provide them with information on staying safe. You’d be surprised at the type of response that is received from customers that understand why they must be protected as opposed to just being told that they should stay protected.
Following are resources available that can be supplied to your customers in their bid for ‘safety education’:
National Cyber Security Awareness Campaign: Providing information on awareness and resources that are available.
Cyber Security Tips: Providing information on cyber security and how to stay safe.
24HourSupport.com: Providing useful information on Internet security and protecting yourself and your computer against threats.