Don’t Fall Victim to Cyber Crime

small__6230865185What is a cyber crime?

Cyber crime STINKS, plain and simple! Cyber crime is a type of attack on your computer or mobile device that is designed to make you vulnerable to any of the following: identity theft, financial fraud, web site vandalism, and cyber bullying, among other things. Hackers are one of the scariest, and in my opinion, meanest people to experience. You can’t see them, you don’t know they are there, and they want to make your life a living hell! I’m not talking a fabricated Halloween hell either. Not only can cyber thieves can ruin your computer; ultimately, if left undetected, they can rob you blind.

Cyber crime has potential to damage your business. One way this is accomplished is by finding website breaches where hackers get into your system and steal your customer’s sensitive information from databases: their addresses, phone numbers, passwords, credit cards numbers, etc. Another way is for them to steal your intellectual property: graphics, photographs, financial statements, or other documents that you have created (such as your business plan or marketing plan). These scenarios not only dramatically lower consumer confidence and trust in your security measures, but they also expose yours and/or your client’s proprietary information.

Cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated, as hackers target anyone and any business they can, including the government. A friend of mine just finished telling me how his bank account was drained from cyber thieves in Bahrain. His first question was, “Where the heck is Bahrain?” My first question was, “What are you doing to protect your business, your reputation and your customers?”

I personally tried to purchase some website applications from a vendor, which operates out of Great Britain. My bank informed me that the USA has blocked any cyber purchase activity with the country of Great Britain. If I wanted to buy the applications I would have to authorize lifting the block on my account. My reply was, “NO WAY! It isn’t worth the risk.” I was grateful for my bank’s proactive protection of my money, but it made me more aware of the precautions I have to take to protect myself and my business. I needed to make sure I was practicing and implementing every layer of protection possible to defend my business from being vulnerable from an attack.

How does Cyber Crime affect us?

It takes just one successful cyber attack to ruin your business! Cyber attacks can cause fiscal losses, identity theft, intellectual property theft, and damage to your reputation; which in turn affects consumer confidence and trust. The financial effect of cyber crime costs billions of dollars a year to businesses, government, and society in general.

In fact, if the insanity isn’t enough, read this article from, published in 2011, “How a Remote Town in Romania Has Become Cybercrime Central.”


What Should We Do?

What do you do to protect your good name, your accounts, and not only your private information, but your children’s safety?

Awareness is a good first step to lowering these exposures. Everyone should be aware of cyber threats and how to protect their private information, as well as the information within their business.

How does a business mitigate the risk of becoming a victim of cyber crime? The best line of defense is protection. Here are some tips to prevent attacks from infiltrating your computer and your mobile devices to vulnerabilities. Not to mention protecting the identity of yourself, your family, and your business.

Install the latest operating system updates.

Keep your applications and operating system (e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux, IOS, Jelly Bean, or whatever it is) current with the latest system updates. Turn on automatic updates to prevent potential attacks on older software.

Secure your computer.

  • Enable your firewall: Think of firewalls as the front line of defense again cyber attacks. Your shield, if you will. Firewalls block connections from suspicious traffic. Although it helps with some types of viruses and hackers, it does not do the whole job.
  • Use anti-virus and malware: Install these software solutions and update them regularly. There are new virus’ being created around the world hourly.
  • Block spyware attacks: Install and update anti-spyware software regularly.

Use strong passwords.

  • Mix up ID/password combinations and don’t use the same ones for each account.
  • Complicate the passwords by using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Make the passwords long.
  • Change them on a regular basis.
  • Do not write them down nor record them on your computer.

Download applications from trusted sources: 

  • Do not store unnecessary or sensitive information on your mobile device or computers.
  • Do not auto save your passwords in browsers (e.g., Chrome or Firefox).

Keep your laptops, tablets and mobile devices physically secure: If you lose your device:

  • Report it immediately to your carrier. Today, some devices have remote erasing of data.The sooner you report it, the sooner the information can be protected.
  • If you work for clients, you have an obligation to inform your clients that there has been a vulnerability to their information. Consult you legal team how to rectify this vulnerability to restore consumer confidence.

small__7853146846Encrypt sensitive data. Sensitive files such as tax returns, financial records or health reports, should be encrypted on a file level, and on an email level.

Secure your wireless network. Home wireless networks, also known as Wi-Fis should be secured as appropriate. Review and modify default settings (most Wi-Fi manuals have the directions). Hot Spots or public Wi-Fi is vulnerable as well. Do not conduct sensitive transactions nor view sensitive information on these networks.

Protect your online identity.

  • Look for https:// before the web domain name: Make sure that if you give out personal information on the Internet such as your name, address, phone number or financial information that the sites have an “s” after the http.
  • Use only secured websites and reputable online vendors when making online purchases.
  • Enable privacy settings on your devices (e.g. when accessing/using social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.). Once something is posted on the Internet, it may be there forever.
  • Avoid disclosing locations on social networks and mobile devices.

Take action not to be scammed or fall victim to phishing:

  • Never reply to emails that ask you to verify your information or confirm your user ID or password. Always close out of the browser and manually enter directly to the website. Try to look for details in a home page. If you don’t recognize the site, get out quick!
  • Don’t click on a link or file from a generic name or from someone you don’t know.
  • Never trust a first name only in the from field of your email and never trust a business name only. If you are unsure of the sender, hover the mouse pointer over the return address. Usually, you will see a general Aol, Yahoo, Gmail or other free email provider address. Hackers generally use these addresses because they can be taken down and new ones can be created quickly. Always verify the source of the message and when in doubt, get out!

Back up important files

You do not want to lose everything. A virus can erase your operating system. Make regular back-ups of all your important data. There are several applications and programs that are available and proven.

Leave us a comment about the techniques and safety tips that you use to protect your website, blogs, emails, computers, devices, etc.

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