The holidays are here. With this comes parties, family gatherings, and work functions.

It’s also the time of year when those special unwanted gifts like phishing emails, credit card fraud and identity theft start their annual resurgence of popularity. Granted they are always present year-round, but there’s nothing like an upswing in digital shopping and online spending to spur their growth.

The personal habits and hygiene that people learn at home are naturally brought to work with them. This is true of cyber hygiene as well. In taking advantage of the holiday shopping season, and every other day throughout the year, the security posture of your company is only as good as the habits of your staff.

To enhance corporate cyber wellness and add some security to your season of joy (indeed, all seasons), we’re revisiting the topics covered during the recently celebrated National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This is the second and final of two installments designed to impart cheerful guidance for your online experiences at home and at work.  In this installment, we cover Part 2 – Own IT and Part 3 – Protect IT (Read the first installment, including Part 1 – Secure IT, here).

Part 2 – Own IT

Be Private

Your personal information is like money. Be smart about where you’re sharing it, who you’re sharing it with and how it’s being used. Cybercriminals love it when you overshare on social media – they can learn all about you!

Make it harder for them by avoiding posting real names, places you frequent, home, school and work locations, when you’re out of your house, etc. Almost all social media sites have strong privacy options. Enable them when possible. Check your privacy settings, make sure they are not public and that only the people you trust can see your postings. If a post is intended to be public, then make only that post available and nothing else.

Remember, others who see your posts can also share the information. Be careful what you share and assume any information you post could eventually become public. Avoid communicating sensitive or private details about yourself or your family. It is also wise to avoid posting any images of yourself that you wouldn’t want someone like your parent or employer to see.

Check Your Phone

Your mobile devices are just as vulnerable as your PC or laptop. Take a moment to read the fine print on your apps. Many social networking sites or mobile device apps also support third-party applications, can deliver malware, or spy on you and your information. Inspect the details when downloading an app or registering for a new network. Only install applications from trusted sources and only install the apps you truly think you need. If it’s a temporary need, get rid of it by uninstalling when you’re finished using it.

Browsing or shopping on your mobile device? Make sure it’s not running suspicious apps or using permissions you didn’t realize you approved. When paying make sure you are on the proper shopping cart for the electronic store, and don’t keep your credit card information on your device unless you have it locked down with encryption and your phone has its access security settings turned on.

Enable automatic app and security updates in your device settings so your software runs smoothly and you stay protected against cyberthreats! Don’t hesitate to uninstall any app that acts suspicious or won’t work with your device’s security.

Rules for Keeping Tabs on Your Apps:

  1. Delete apps you don’t need or no longer use. It also opens up storage.
  2. Review app permissions. Say “No” to any that don’t make sense. 
  3. Only download apps from trusted sources like Google Play or Apple Store.
  4. Use antivirus or anti-malware. Even trusted sources can sometimes have a bad app.

Part 3 – Protect IT

If You Connect, You Must Protect

Any device that connects to the internet is vulnerable to various risks. The best defense is to keep device security software, web browser, downloaded apps, and operating systems up to date by turning on auto-updates. Outsmart the bad guys and cheat cyberthreats by keeping your devices and downloaded app software fresh and clean.

Stay Protected While Connected

Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. Be very careful of shopping when using public hotspots like the local coffee house or your hotel. Shop anonymously and don’t log in. You never know who is electronically eavesdropping on your internet connection and recording (stealing) the information you put out there on the internet.

Limit what you do on public WiFi. Don’t log in to key accounts like email and financial services. Only purchase using a secure WiFi link like at your home on your secure router, or yes, at your company if your company’s policies allow you to do so.

If You Collect It, Protect It

If you are making online purchases, keeping your payment methods and information on your device, using it for any personal or private information, as we all do, turn on encryption and use your device’s secure access methods. Losing a mobile device is horrible enough when you lose your pictures, but losing your personal identity, compromising your company, or worse, putting your family at risk that way can be devastating.

Be safe and secure by practicing all you’ve learned. Just like we teach personal hygiene to our children, make cyber hygiene a personal habit. And the best way to practice cyber wellness is to pass it on to others. Make it a gift worth giving repeatedly.

Happy Holidays from Micro Strategies and the MSI security team! 

In today’s digital landscape, no one’s data is safe. Cybersecurity awareness can’t be overlooked by organizations; it’s essential for every employee.  Teaching your employees how to recognize cyber threats can turn them into one of your best defenses against cyber-attacks.  Interested in learning how Micro Strategies can help?  Contact us today.

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