News + Events

Five Tips for Staying Safe Online

By: Andrew Greene

With the recent Ransomware attack, as well as the ongoing cyber-war between private entities and nation states, increased identity theft, and the like… what can you do to help ensure you don’t become a victim?

Here are five simple tips that can increase your protection starting today:

1. DO NOT ever use a public wifi hotspot without a virtual private network (VPN). Public hotspots can be easily scanned to gather passwords, credit card information and more. You can purchase a monthly VPN account very inexpensively. Google is your friend (sometimes, be careful there as well!)

2. DO NOT install browser extensions unless you are completely confident in the source. Google Chrome has a HUGE store of really cool browser add-ons, but there have been cases where an add-on is also stealing your data and transmitting it back to a 3rd party. Stick with add-ons you know are secure (from major vendors, etc).

3. DO install anti-virus and anti-malware software. There are both paid and free versions out there. We recommend doing some research to find the options best for you.

4. DO NOT re-use passwords. DO use only STRONG passwords. Avoid using anything in your password that could be socially-engineered; no birthdates, family pets, etc. Random pass-phrases are always the best choice. We recommend using a 3rd party password manager, such as “1Password” or “LastPass”, to help you manage them.

5. DO NOT download anything from the internet unless you explicitly know what it is. That mean not opening that email that promises quick fortunes, or the unexpected attachment or link from a friend. If you know the sender, but were not expecting the content, it’s always best to call them to confirm the validity of the email before opening attachments or clicking on links. This also applies to general web surfing. There are some that will ask you to install Java or Flash plugins; it’s best to NOT do that unless you explicitly trust the site and vendor.

As with anything, think through what you are doing! Do not give away personal information that can later be used against you, or to gather information about you.

Stay Safe!

About the Author: Andrew Greene oversees all software development activities, third party technology integration, and the robust cloud network infrastructure for Incident Response Technologies. Andrew has more than 20 years of experience in various aspects of technical development, including hardware and software.

Prior to joining IRT, Andrew served in the United States Marine Corps and as an EMT, Hazmat Technician, Communications Officer, and Acting Deputy Commander for the National Medical Response Team (National Disaster Medical System / Department of Health and Human Services). Andrew has been deployed to multiple disasters and national level events.

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