Data SecurityMost of our readers are computer savvy. They know the basics of how their IT works and are mindful of cyber threats and data security risks. But, we all have that relative or friend who is a late adopter of computers, networks, smartphones and the internet. They may not really understand the risks they create to their own personal data when they log on. Here are the top 3 most common security risks, and how to avoid them. You might want to pass these along to those that could use a little guidance when it comes to protecting their valuable information.

1. They visit unsecured websites.

Surfing the web for recipes and holiday shoppping is certainly a revelation after a lifetime of oversized cookbooks and shlepping to the mall at the holidays. But, cyber criminals know there are less experienced users out there willing to click anything for a deal. When a visitor lands on an unsecured page, they open themselves up to the risk of malware and data theft (like passwords and credit card info). Google has taken action recently to alert people when they are heading to an unsecured site, but you can also be mindful here. Simply look in the URL, or web address, the bar at the top of your screen; If the address starts with “https” then you’re headed to a secure site where your data will be encrypted before sending. Avoid sites with just an “http.”

2. They open emails from unknown senders or download unknown attachments.

Email was one of the first windows of opportunity for hackers. Opening an email from an unknown sender isn’t likely to do harm on its own; factory-installed virus scanners protect us there. But, clicking links and opening attachments that you can’t tell what they are is a huge risk! With so many emails going in and out every day, 205 billion worldwide, people often don’t pay much attention to the warning signs. If the email is from a friend, but it’s sent to a certain group of their contacts alphabetically, it’s probably spam! Don’t click it! If it’s an unknown sender, always err on the side of caution and don’t click on links or open attachments. If you do, you’re likely to download a virus or spyware.

3. They like and share chain posts on Facebook

This one is a little trickier because it’s not as well known, and harder to anticipate. We’ve all seen the pictures of sick kids, cute puppies, aged veterans, and prayer requests that say “Share if you Agree!” or “Type Amen!”. They seem harmless, but a lot of them aren’t. The mildest requests to share statuses work to increase the social popularity of the page they’re posted from.  The most malicious ones may share a link to a virus that could compromise the user’s Facebook account or computer. Either way, most have been crafted to get spread in a viral manner – called Like Farming. After the originator of the post amasses a sufficient amount of likes, they can change the content of the page to malware and scam advertising or sell the information to cyber criminals.

In an interconnected world, threats to the our data security are rampant. We encourage you to help your friends, family and coworkers understand the risks they expose themselves to everyday. These casual users may bring their infected smartphones into your office someday and once they connect to your network, your valuable data is at risk too. If you want to learn more about keeping your network safe from data security threats, contact the experts at Great Lakes Computer today.

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