Computer Security the human element

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While this recent Wall Street Journal article ( talks about how big corporations are infiltrated due to the trusting nature of employees, I suspect for the small office and home office user the problem is even more pervasive, yet undocumented.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about this risk, yet I continue to get emails such as this

and

this

Not to mention Facebook posts like this

Targeting someone is surprisingly and shocking easy. We all aren’t liked by everyone (though we try). We have competitors, we have enemies and then there are just people who don’t like us. I don’t think it’s a question of if you will be targeted, but when. Think about how easy it is.

Even if we aren’t targeted as individuals, with sophisticated Facebook affinity marketing scams like “Free iPad”, such scams are a risk to us all.

How do you protect yourself? Follow some basic rules.

1) Make sure your antivirus and security is up to date

Whichever antivirus you are using, be sure to go in and check when the last definition update was. If it’s been more than a week, you’ve got a problem and you need to give us a call. If you aren’t sure, give us a call as well and we’ll tell you how to check at no charge.

Same is true for software updates, especially if you use Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat PDF documents are a key source of viruses now and you need to be running the latest version. The program has probably been bugging you in the system tray to update and you’ve been ignoring it. Time to give it the attention it deserves.

Mac users have less worries about this, but are not fully immune. Be sure to run those Adobe Acrobat updates as well as your Software Update at least every few months

As the article says, never disable your antivirus no matter what someone tells you. If some program won’t install with an antivirus turned on, then it’s time to unplug the Internet during the install.

2) Don’t assume something is safe because you know the sender

The old adage of “I only open emails from people I know” is absolutely thrown out the window and that logic hasn’t worked for over a decade. Now with more targeted threats, you run an even greater risk. Viruses that obtain the Facebook information from your friends know not just a list of friends, but their relationships to one another. It could a virus pretending to be from someone; email addresses are easily faked.

Be careful and don’t let your guard down

3) Common sense

This is the most important “antivirus”. Computers simply can’t replace common sense. Look for things that aren’t right. On Facebook, why would someone be posting a risque or gross video without explaining it? Does that sound like their usual behavior?

For emails, look for the telltale grammar and spelling differences. Is this like the person talks? Were you expecting an email on this subject? Why would FedEx or UPS want you to open an attachment?

Most important, avoid your curiosity. The bad guys rely on this. You aren’t sure what is attached to the email and open it. You know the sender (or think you do) and you are safe

The human element is the greatest threat to computer security, but it’s also the ultimate weapon when used wisely.

Use it wisely.

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