More thoughts on computer security

Unless you have been living under a press blackout, you know that the South Carolina Department of Revenue suffered a catastrophic data breach in 2012 – one where millions of taxpayers’ private data was stolen. While it wasn’t in the power of the individual taxpayer to prevent this catastrophe, don’t be a victim of a disaster of your own making. Basic precautions can help avert myriad computer security disasters. Here are some basic rules you and your firm should follow to stay safe:

  • Don’t use the same password for everything.
  • Use a strong 12-character password (any 8-character password can now be cracked in hours).
  • Educate all computer users on the dangers of internet browsing.  The bad guys may “spoof” or forge a real website to gain your personal information (“phishing.”) Some helpful advice can be found in this article, “How to Tell If A Website Is Dangerous.”
  • Educate all computer users on the dangers of clicking on links or attachments in email. Learn how to recognize a spoofed email and what to do if you’re a victim of spoofing. This article will help. When in doubt, don’t click!
  • Good, up-to-date, security software is a must! Install anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewalls for users and your network computer servers. Don’t forget your smart phones, laptops and tablets!
  • Update your operating system when prompted.
  • Encrypt flash drives and portable media. Read this how-to article.
  • Password protect all computers and mobile devices. It’s easy to do in the Settings.
  • Whichever browser you use, make sure you have the latest version. New ones are released several times a year.

I wish that were all you needed to know, but I’m sure it’s not. Here are a few websites that may help if you’re in a pinch.

FBI E-Scams and Warnings

Understanding security and safer computing

US-CERT Cyber Security Tips

Snopes