A Nigerian prince with a desperate need to move $7 million into my capable, honest hands? That scam may be played out now, but there are many others employed to scam honest people out of their money and personal information.
You're probably already using Keystone to keep your business network safe and secure, but what about your home computer and network? Vulnerabilities in your home technology can bring about equally troubling problems. In the fight against online fraud, just a little bit of healthy caution can go a long way. Here are a few tips that may save you a considerable amount of difficulty in the future:
1. Understand and use security software. Anti-virus and anti-malware software is a must. If you don't use both, count on getting infected. McAfee and Symantec are a good place to start. The most important thing you can do in this regard is to educate yourself on the risks. A good start can be found on howtogeek.com.
2. Update your software regularly. Most hackers look for outdated software to exploit. Make sure to update your computer's operating software and all of your software when updates become available.
3. Get your passwords in order. I cannot stress this enough.
4. Don't click on suspicious links or open suspicious documents. Remember, curiosity killed the cat. Curiosity about that unknown link or document can do the same to your computer. Be smart; you're not going to benefit from opening something sent to you by someone you don't know.
5. Nobody from Microsoft, the IRS or the FBI is going to call you. If you get a call 'from Microsoft' offering tech support out of the clear blue, know that they don't work for Microsoft, and they are going to steal from you. The same goes for the IRS and FBI. They can barely handle their incoming calls...they are not going to call you asking for personal information. Ever.
6. Secure your home wireless network. Encrypt your home wireless network with a strong password. Providing open, unsecured wireless is inviting trouble.
7. Be cautious about free public wireless. Hackers can set up what appears to be free wireless that, in reality, enables them to monitor everything you're doing and steal your passwords and personal info.
8. Backup, backup, backup your data. You can always buy a new computer. Your data is your data, so make sure you have copies that are automatically managed for you. I'm a big fan of Mozy.com.
The bottom line in home technology security is this: Exercise caution. Be aware of your virtual surroundings and understand the environment.