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Simple Steps to Online Safety

By Shane Hoeser, Senior Security Analyst

Hacks and leaks and data breaches (oh my!). A CIA leak exposing thousands of documents on the agency’s hacking efforts, a ransomware attack infecting more than 200,000 computers in over 150 countries, and most recently the Equifax data breach. 2017 is shaping up to be quite the year for cyber security incidents. According to a new Unisys Security Index™ survey, 56% of Americans who were surveyed are seriously concerned about viruses/malware and hacking. This marks a 55% increase since 2014 when 36% of respondents were seriously concerned. With seemingly no end to these occurrences in sight, what can we do to protect ourselves?

Practice good cyber hygiene
Growing up we were taught about good hygiene – wash your hands, brush your teeth, and take a shower. As we continue to rely upon computers and mobile devices, we also need to practice cyber hygiene to protect those devices from cyber criminals.

Your best defense against malware
Malware (malicious software) poses the biggest risk to our devices. To put things in perspective, the cyber security giant McAfee detected 32 million new malware samples in Q1 2017 alone. Malware is often designed to take control of computers/devices for illicit purposes or hold your files hostage for ransom.

Keep a clean machine: Install operating system and app updates timely – never disable auto updates

Keep it protected: A computer without antivirus software installed is begging for infection

Be Suspicious 

Be Suspicoius
Some emails (“phishing” emails) are designed to trick you into opening a malicious attachment or clicking on a malicious link in order to infect your computer/device. Here are some tips to identify a phishing email:

Were you expecting the message? If you’ve had no previous correspondence or have never done business with the sender, that’s your first clue something may be phishy

Action items: Phishing emails will ask you to do something – open an attachment, click on a link, etc…

Sender/content correlation: Does the content correlate with the sender’s email address (ex: An email with UPS branding asking you to confirm your delivery by clicking a link from Also, by hovering your mouse over a link you can see the web address – does the address correlate with the content?