Stay Tech Safe with Top Security Tips

Remember the four p's

July 11, 2019 |

Your technology takes care of you, but are you taking care of your technology? From research to communication to leisure, our technology keeps us connected whenever we need it. Unfortunately, malicious cyber activity can take advantage of unsuspecting users and result in information being stolen. With the right knowledge and preventative action, you can easily protect all your devices and stay on top of cybercrime before it hits. 

Don’t know where to start? IT Solutions can help! Mike Menne, Minnesota State University, Mankato's Chief Information Security Officer, is a part of an entire team at IT Solutions that works on the daily to keep students and faculty protected from cyberthreats. In order to build up your own wall of protection against cyberthreats, Mike says to remember the Four P's: Patching, Phishing, Passwords, and Protect Your Devices.

 

Patching 

A patch is a software update that provides fixes and improvements, allowing any cracks in the foundation of your device to be sealed up from potential threats. Old apps and operating systems are easy for cybercriminals to take advantage of. It only takes a few minutes to install updates, and it could save you from experiencing security problems in the future. 

Here are some simple steps to make sure your devices are patched: 

  • Keep software up to date. Your computer, apps, and antivirus programs all need to be regularly updated. 

  • Use only official app stores. The Apple App Store, Microsoft Store, Google Play, etc. verify the legitimacy and safety of apps for you. 

  • Be careful of free apps. Make sure you check the permissions they ask for. 

 

Phishing 

Phishing is fraudulent activity including malicious emails, websites, text messages, and phone calls that aim to steal your information. Phishing attacks are quick and easy for any cybercriminal to launch. You can avoid phishing threats by staying aware and questioning any communication from a sender that you do not know. 

Here are some ways to prevent falling victim to phishing: 

  • Verify the sender. Cybercriminals may create urgency in the message or they may disguise themselves as someone familiar, such as your university or your bank. 

  • Don’t open links or attachments. Email attachments are notorious for containing malicious software, and links can take you to malicious websites. Delete any messages from unknown senders with attachments or links. 

  • Don’t share personal information. Legitimate companies and organizations will not ask you for your personal information (passwords, credit cards, Social Security numbers, etc.) through an email. Always take caution to protect this information. 

 

Passwords 

Your passwords act as the keys to your devices and accounts, which contain your personal information and can be at risk if your passwords are not secure and protected. Remember – passwords that are unprotected and easily guessable make a cybercriminal’s job that much easier. 

Here are some good password habits to keep your information protected: 

  • Don’t share your passwords. Avoid writing them down, never give them out, and don’t reuse them. 

  • Use complex passwords. Making passwords lengthy (at least 8 characters) and using a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols is a good way to ensure that they can’t be guessed – but make sure it’s something you can remember! 

  • Lock all of your devices with a password. This is a simple way to create a barrier between your personal information and the outside world. 

 

Protect Your Devices 

Your computers contain personal information and web activity – and so do your smart phones! Smart phones are usually the least protected of all devices, which makes them a target. You should be taking precautions to make sure all your devices are accounted for at all times. 

Here are some easy steps to help you protect your devices: 

  • Keep track of your devices. Don’t misplace your devices or leave them unattended for others to take – the information on them is just as valuable as the technology itself. 

  • Don't forget about your old devices. Old devices may no longer be in use, but they can still be storing personal information. Don't leave them laying around! 

  • Correctly dispose of University technology. If you have a University device that you no longer need, contact IT Solutions to have it scrubbed of information and recycled or passed on to a new user. Read our support article to find out how to request a surplus pickup. 

 

For more information on cyber safety, updates on current cybersecurity threats, and answers to frequent questions, visit the information security website and follow us on social media.

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