Easy Hacks To Stop Hackers

By Stephanie Gasca, IT Manager and Zac Kellogg, IT Specialist, Connections Housing

Cybercriminals are getting craftier every day.  Here are some quick and easy “hacks” to stop scammers from getting access to your devices and personal information.

Be Cautious of Unknown Networks
When traveling or in public, it might seem like a convenient option to leave your WiFi turned on so your device will connect to known networks. Make sure that any networks you connect to are secured and that your phone or laptop does not auto-connect to unknown networks. It is very easy for even a novice cybercriminal to gain personal information, including usernames, passwords, and any uploaded or downloaded data. NEVER connect a work computer to ANY public networks (including hotels and airplanes) without your IT team knowing first.

Be On The Lookout for Phishing
Phishing -- the fraudulent practice of sending emails that appear to be from reputable companies as a way to trick individuals into revealing personal information --  is getting more sophisticated each day.  Now known as “Spear Phishing,” the practice has become much more targeted, using your name, company and sometimes, even references to projects you’re working on. If you get an email that seems suspicious, it usually is.  Unless you’re 100 percent sure it’s from someone you know, don’t open the attachment or click any links.  Some key giveaways?  Typos or links to fake URL addresses in the email message.  One way you can check a link is to hover over it with your mouse to see if it appears to be the correct URL.  

Phishing is now Mobile!
We are now seeing cyberattacks that use misleading text messages to deceive victims. Sometimes these come as text messages asking for personal data. Other times, these might appear as messages with shortened links to click for tempting deals or special offers, which, when clicked, install malware on your device or ask for login credentials. The solution?  Never click a link from someone you do not know or are not expecting.  And, if you get a text from someone you know asking for personal data, call the number from your list of contacts, not the number on the text, to confirm validity. Texts for unexpected packages, or even winning a contest, are very popular now.

Monitor Your Bank Account for Tiny Charges
Cyber criminals who have gotten access to your bank or credit card accounts often start with small withdrawals – usually less than $10 – as a test before moving on to larger figures.  So check your accounts regularly and immediately report a charge you don’t recognize.

Update Your Smart Devices and Appliances
From your smart TV to your WiFi enabled dishwasher and every network-capable device we have in every room of our homes, these devices can become large security risks as the firmware (software they use to be “smart”) gets more and more out of date. The good news is most of these devices will auto-update. Take the time to manually check for updates on these devices every 2-3 months. This might seem like a lot of work, but it can become quite easy after a few repetitions and is a much better option than your robot vacuum cleaner stealing your bank information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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