24 May 2019

How to Prepare Your Business for a Phishing Scam

Working online comes with certain risks. There are computer viruses, malware, spyware, worms, Trojan horses, and ransomware – just to name a few. With all of these potential threats, how can you keep your company safe online?

According to a 2017 study, 90% of online attacks can be traced back to phishing scams. Even though so many attacks are related to phishing, many companies still aren’t sure how to identify and avoid phishing scams. To help, we’ve put together some of the best ways to identify and prepare for a phishing attack.

 

What is a Phishing Scam?

A phishing scam is one of the most common cyber attacks we face. In a phishing scam, the hacker will usually disguise themselves as a reputable company and contact you through email. The phishing message will ask you to click a link or download an attachment, which allows the hacker access to your personal information like credit card numbers, account numbers, login credentials, and other sensitive company information. This also leaves you vulnerable to malware attacks.

While phishing emails are most common, there has been a spike in phishing attacks using text messages and direct phone calls. We’ve also seen an increase in spear phishing, which is a targeted phishing attempt directed at and personalized for a specific individual. These attacks are typically geared toward identity theft, so make sure to pay close attention to suspicious texts and phone calls.

 

How Can You Detect Phishing?

Phishing emails used to be littered with spelling errors and obvious mistakes that made them easy to identify. Scammers have gotten a little smarter over the years. Fortunately, there are still a couple simple ways you can detect a phishing attack before it strikes.

 

Read Closely

While it isn’t common anymore, it’s still best to double check all emails for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, or other red flags. These are all signs of a phishing scam. Remember, if an email seems ‘phishy’, it probably is.

 

Look For Urgency

A phishing scam will usually want you to act now. Maybe it’ll say that your account is about to be closed or that there’s a limited time offer. Either way, their goal is to make you feel as if you need to act quickly. Remember, most companies won’t close your account without ample warning, so don’t panic. This urgency could indicate a phishing scam.

 

Double Check the Information

While it might look like it comes from a legitimate site, a phishing email will be coming from a less than reputable source. You can verify the legitimacy of the email by looking at the sender’s email address, the phone number and contact information, by contacting the legitimate institution to verify, or by typing the alleged web address in a search engine.

 

Protect Your Business

The best way to protect yourself from phishing scams is through preparation!While you can usually identify a phishing scam using the tips above, it’s still best to have a little extra protection in place.

 

Update and Install Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software

You can keep your personal information more secure by keeping your computer’s operating system and anti-virus tools completely up to date. And this helps with more than just phishing attacks. Having anti-virus and anti-malware in place will help protect your business from all kinds of online attacks.

 

Educate, Educate, Educate!

Your employees are your best defense against online attacks. To get them on board, train every employee on what a phishing scam is, how to detect it, and what the proper response is.

 

By following these steps, you can help prevent phishing scams from harming your business. If you want to improve your business’ online security, call Alt-Tech’s security team and learn how we can help protect your business online.

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14 May 2019

Is it Safe to Use Public WiFi?

Using public WiFi is like having a conversation in public. You never really know who is listening in. Having someone eavesdrop on your conversation probably isn’t a big deal. Having someone gain access to all your computer files, however, is a real security issue.

If you’re on a public network, someone may be able to access your personal information, passwords, and more. We do our best to protect our work and home networks with WiFi protected setups, passwords, and even hiding our networks. But, many of us don’t worry about WiFi security on public networks in the same way.

While you can’t guarantee public WiFi security, there are a few ways you can help keep your information secure on public networks.

Know Which Networks to Trust

The best way to stay safe when using free Internet is to know the network. You’re going to have to use your best judgement for this one, but usually the best networks are the ones that seem the most trustworthy.

Familiar networks are probably safer than ones you’ve never heard of or used. Some WiFi networks are much more secure than others. For example, you probably shouldn’t trust the network named “FREE WIFI HERE”. The WiFi at a well-known coffee shop, like Starbucks, however, is probably fairly secure.

Only Use Secure Networks

Unsecure WiFi networks are ones that have no security protocols in place to stop people from accessing them. If you don’t need to enter a password to join a network, it probably isn’t very secure. Using unsecure networks can leave you vulnerable to “man in the middle” attacks. Of course no WiFi network is completely secure, but using networks with more security (like logins or passwords) are generally safer.

Don’t Connect Automatically

Many of us have our mobile devices configured to automatically connect to different WiFi networks. The problem is you have no way of controlling which wireless networks your device connects to. There are two options to mitigate this:

  1. Set your device to never automatically connect to WiFi networks
  2. Set your device up to ask you before it connects to unknown networks

Turn Off File Sharing

File sharing and AirDrop are incredibly convenient. You don’t want your computer to be automatically sharing things with strangers. Fortunately, you can avoid this by turning your file sharing off before you connect to a public network. Once your file sharing has been shut off, cyber criminals can’t just reach out and take your files.

Keep Your Computer’s Antivirus Updated

This may seem obvious, but it’s always best for your computer and antivirus software to be up to date. If you can take ten minutes and update your computer or install antivirus software, your system will be much more secure. Working on public networks without any protection increases your risk of cyber attack. If you plan on using public WiFi frequently, it’s best to have antivirus or antimalware on your computer.

Use a VPN

The best way to ensure public WiFi safety is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device. VPN services encrypt your data and mask your IP address, keeping your information hidden. Installing a VPN hides your personal information from other people using the same network.

It always feels good to know you’re staying safe online. These easy tips will help you keep your data secure the next time you’re using a public WiFi network. Remember, if a network isn’t up to your security standards, don’t use it! You can always improve your online safety by investing in your own portable WiFi router or using your own hotspot.

Want to learn more about cyber security? Check out our recent post on the 5 Best Practices to Improve Cyber Security. Or get in touch with our team at Alt Tech to learn more about cyber security and get IT service you can count on!

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