How to secure your systems against cyber threats

February 20, 2014

By Angie Singer Keating, Reclamere CEO

You most likely already have a firewall and security software to protect your network. Thus, your systems should be well protected from any unattended probes and intrusions from viruses and other malware. However, data thieves can thwart these efforts by using the following, manual means to steal your confidential business information.

Email Alerts: Don’t worry about opening suspicious emails. In most cases, all you lose is the time it takes to verify that a message is legitimate. What you have to worry about is the message inside asking you to click on a link or download an attachment. The link or attachment may contain the malicious software. Or they may lead you to a fake website that looks like it belongs to the company that sent the message. It asks you to enter your usercode and password, which the thieves then use to access your account. Never click a link in an email, even if it’s from someone you know, because the originating addresses can be faked. Instead, note the contents of the message and then delete it.

Phony Updates: If you’ve turned on automatic updating in your operating system, you may receive several messages asking you to update software. While many of these missives are legitimate, it only takes a fraudulent one to unleash harmful code on your system. All you need do is click one of the buttons on the message and the trouble starts. Close such messages right away without clicking on anything.

Phishing: This refers to phony websites that look like exact copies of legitimate ones. An email or update message may lead you the site, which then prompts you for your usercode or password. A big clue that the site is fraudulent is the URL in the address bar. It may not match the company website at all. In that case, close your browser immediately.

You can rely on one solution to thwart all these attempts. Manually browse to the originating website to determine if an update or change is truly needed. If the site did not originate the message, then report the fraudulent attempt to the website’s security department.

For more information on securing your systems against small business cyber threats, be sure to attend my session, “Protecting Your Company From Growing Connectivity Exposures” at the NAID conference on Friday, April 4.