Don’t ignore the headlines – three steps to protect yourself online

By Stephanie Hopper, Information Security Engineer

Perhaps you’ve seen one of the recent headlines: “Computer bug ‘Heartbleed’ poses severe threat,” “Tech Companies Rush to Secure Products Against ‘Shellshock’ Bash Bug,” or “Shellshock security risk for millions of computer users.” Software vulnerabilities have been in the news a lot lately. Heartbleed, Shellshock (aka Bash) and Poodle have sent IT staffs across the globe scrambling to protect servers they once thought were safe. Perhaps more broadly, these vulnerabilities have begun to shake the confidence of computer users who once believed that all websites were inherently safe.

It appears that users feel inundated with this type of bad news and have become immune to caring about threats. Or maybe they just feel it’s the responsibility of others to protect them. However, the growth of online threats clearly illustrates the need for you to take a personal interest in your own security and responsibility for your behavior while operating in cyberspace, whether that’s in the comfort of your own home or in a public Wi-Fi space.

It’s true that the recent threats didn’t require much action from the average user. In the case of Heartbleed, our advice was to wait for the websites you visit to patch their servers then change your passwords. For Shellshock, you should patch your Mac or Linux computer and hope that everyone else does the same. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry or be vigilant about your security.
So, what can you do? The following list highlights three actions you should regularly take to help minimize potential losses from a hostile attack:

1. Install and regularly update antivirus and anti-malware.
2. Back up your important files and double-check to make sure it’s done.
3. Monitor your financial information and credit reports.

Technology greatly improves our lives and offers many benefits, but it also imposes certain responsibilities. So remember, don’t ignore the headlines, take the necessary steps to be informed and protect your valuable data.

For additional tips on Internet security, visit:

Going phishing – hook, line and sinker
Password…is not a good password
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