Cyber security matters.
Just ask The Associated Press. Or Wall Street. By now,
everyone knows that somebody hacked AP's Twitter account and sent
out a fake tweet reporting two explosions at the White House and
that President Obama had been injured.
In the minutes after the tweet went out, according to
The Wall Street Journal
, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted, along with the
S&P 500. The account was suspended by Twitter and things
quickly returned to normal.
The event made it clear that nobody, not even a big outfit
like AP is safe. It is possible, however, to be safer.
Cyber Security Alliance
runs a website called "StaySafeOnline" and has some suggestions
about achieving and maintaining cyber security.
First, make sure your security software, web browser and
operating system are up to date. When possible, allow for
automatic updating of all critical software.
External storage devices can also become infected. Make sure
you set your security software to scan them.
Don't just pay attention to your computer. Smartphones, gaming
systems, and other web-enabled equipment need protection from
viruses and malware as well.
Make sure you have an active firewall on your computer -
either through the operating system or security software.
Firewalls prevent hackers from using your computer to send out
your personal information without your permission.
It's also wise to use a pop-up blocker - typically available
with security software. Pop-up ads have a reputation for being
sources of malware.
Lay Low on Links
In general, don't click on links unless you are absolutely,
100 percent sure they are safe.
Keep in mind that links don't just arrive in email. They also
come in tweets, online posts, and even online advertising. If you
are unsure, delete it.
If the message comes from a company with which you do
business, contact the company directly (not through a link in the
Protect Personal Information
Don't reveal personal or financial information in an email,
and do not respond to email solicitations for this
Before sending sensitive information over the Internet - for
example when shopping online - check the security of the website.
Look for web addresses with https:// or s
both of which indicate that the site is secure.
Make passwords strong by using a mix of capital and lowercase
letters, along with numbers and symbols. In addition, create a
unique password for each account on your computer. Software that
stores passwords in a "vault" so you don't have to remember them,
Two-factor authentication uses a username and password and a
security code. According to NCSA, many email services now offer
two-factor verification, along with financial institutions and
other online services.
Even if you use a "vault" write down all passwords and keep
them in a secure place (not taped to the computer).
Practice Safe Social Networking
), Twitter, Google's (NASDAQ:
)Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn (NYSE:
) and other social networks are integrated into online lives.
Cyber thieves know this very well.
Use privacy and security settings to control who sees what.
Think twice about posting private information, even when you
think only friends are viewing it.
If you have a public persona for business purposes, create a
"fan" page that limits personal information. Use your personal
page for your real friends and family.
Protect Your Home Network
It's important to protect your home network in addition to the
devices that connect to it. If your network is wireless, there is
probably a cable or DSL modem to access the Internet and a
wireless router to broadcast throughout your home.
Protecting these Internet access points prevents people from
"stealing" your Internet bandwidth and from stealing your
Start by changing the default ID (SSID or ESSID) of your
router. Make it something unique to you that won't be easy for
others to guess.
Change the password on your router. The one the router comes
with is known to criminals. As always, use a mix of numbers,
letters, and symbols.
You have an option of security levels on your router. WPA2 is
best, if available. WPA is also reliable. WEP is the least
desirable security option.
Back Up Regularly
Backing up data doesn't protect you from cybercrime, but it
makes recovering - especially from loss - much easier.
Most people today subscribe to some form of automated backup
service such as Carbonite (NASDAQ:
). Like most subscription services, Carbonite charges a monthly
fee and the software can be configured to back up your data on a
regular basis without interaction on your part.
Help! I've been hacked!
If, after meticulous attention to security, you discover your
online account has been compromised, all is not lost.
You may know you've been hacked if posts under your name
appear on your social network pages that you didn't put there.
Friends, family members, or colleagues may report getting strange
email messages from you with links about which they are not
First, notify all of your contacts that they may receive spam
messages that appear to come from your account. Tell them not to
open the messages or click on links.
Change passwords for all affected accounts; check financial
accounts to make sure they have not been compromised. If they
have, contact the company to let them know what has happened.
If you cannot access an account because a password has been
changed by the hacker, contact the company or web service
immediately and follow any steps they have for recovering your
(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.
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