How to keep your technology safe
By Koden Tarvin on 10-30-2014
     The best way to keep your credit cards and personal information safe from cyber thieves is to not to even put that information on your computer. Well that's a great tip however, there are times when we need to put that information on our computers so that we can share it with authorized recipients. With that being said though, the best rule of thumb will always be to not put that sensitive information on your computer unless its absolutely necessary.
Example of a fund transfer site known as PayPal
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A lot of people like to shop online with their credit or debit cards. Shopping online is a great way to find hard to find objects for a great price. However, shopping online with a credit card is not a very good idea. Every time you enter your credit card number, you run a huge risk. Cyber criminals can and will take advantage of your shopping habits. There are many ways for cyber criminals to obtain your credit card number, from phishing sites to keyloggers it really is a dangerous internet out there. To minimize this risk, I would suggest instead of shopping with your credit or debit card, use fund transfer site such as PayPal.
The way sites like PayPal work is quite simple. These sites will be linked to a credit card or bank account, when you pay for something with that site, that site will charge your credit card or bank account instead of you having to enter in sensitive information to the site you are purchasing items from. The site will never obtain your credit or bank information AND you don't have to worry about phishing viruses stealing your information as you type it in. I would not recommend shopping online by any other means.
I've mentioned the word "phishing" a few times but I have not really explained what it means. For those of you who are wondering, "phishing" is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, or credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. There are many phishing sites and phishing viruses on the internet. They may even aim to steal your network information so the creator can access your private network and steal anything they want. The way they work is simple. A cyber criminal will create a website that mimics and looks like a popular site, the only difference is the login screen will not log you into that site, rather it will steal your login information. Victims will stumble onto these phishing sites from links on bad websites or from e-mails saying they need to sign in for security reasons or other methods of scamming, they will provide a link that will direct them to the phishing site. Once there, they will unknowingly enter their login information into these sites and have their information stolen. Phishing viruses essentially work the same way, but instead of a website, they will pop up a program that looks authentic or mimics  a settings window in their operating system. Once that person enters the information into the phishing virus it will be stolen and sent to the cyber criminals computer.
Example of a phishing site, looks legit right?
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Now, the big question you may be asking "how do I protect myself from phishing?" Well, unfortunately, there's no easy answer. However, the best method to avoid becoming a victim of phishing, is to always question the validity of any site or program that is asking you to enter sensitive information, even if you trust that site or program. Phishing sites and viruses are made to look exactly like the site they are trying to mimic. So ever if you "think" you're logging into Facebook, it's always best to double check that you're not on a phishing site instead.
Another way to protect yourself against phishing is to use a good anti-virus. Some anti-virus software actually do have definitions written for phishing sites and viruses. However, this is not a sure way to protect against phishing, as anti-viruses do not contain definitions for every single phishing virus or site on the internet and new ones are being written every day to replace the older ones that have been rediscovered.
The last thing I want to talk about is how to protect your network from cyber criminals looking to gain access to your files or information stored on your computer or network. Before I begin however, I would like to mention a key point here. Breaking into a network can be very time consuming depending on it's security. Cyber criminals do NOT randomly access networks to look for information, like mentioned before this is very time consuming for them and if you have no valuable information on your network, they will have wasted a lot of time and effort just to get into a network with nothing of interest. Now what this means is that cyber criminals specifically target networks that are known to have information or data they are looking for and may be very valuable to them. So unless you have something of high value on your network, they will not target you. Credit cards and personal information are not considered to be high value. What I mean when i say this is, unless you are filthy rich, they are not going to waste the time to break into your network and steal your personal information or credit card information. There are much, much easier and faster ways for them to steal this type of information, such as phishing and scamming.

The best way to protect your network from being broken into is to first eliminate any type of wireless connection on the network. If this network is holding sharing very sensitive information, it is not a good idea to allow wireless access to this network, keep it off the air and use only wired connections.

Another great way to protect your network is to keep it offline. Do not allow this network or any system on this network to be connected to the internet. Although, this can be a problem for businesses that require internet access.

A very important tool to use to protect your network is a firewall. Firewalls prevent any unauthorized access into a network. However, firewalls can be bypassed with certain methods, the tougher the firewall, the tougher it is to get passed it. It is always best to have two firewalls set up on your network. I recommend having firewall software in your operating systems and having a router with a good firewall for the best protection. Also, on an important note, I would not recommend relying on the firewall built into any Windows operating system, as any simple virus can get into the system and disable it.

In conclusion, the internet is a dangerous place. The final step to protect your network, is to have a professional evaluate and implement security features that are tailored to your network's needs. Call us today to schedule an appointment for our network security installation package.