May 16, 2016

Northwest FCS News


John Whalen, Director-Information Security

Your online security is your responsibility. Investing the time to educate yourself to potential threats and protections is practical and useful. Educate yourself whenever you can. Follow these security tips to help protect your online activities.


1. Create Strong Passwords
Creating a strong password of 10 characters with a mix of numbers, symbols and characters is the cornerstone of staying safe online. Never use common words and phrases, such as ‘password,’ and use a different password for every website. To keep track of your passwords, consider signing up for a password locker service that stores all your passwords in one secure place.

2. Set Social Media Settings to Private
If social media applications had it their way, anyone would be able to see photos of your birthday celebrations and holiday vacations you share with friends and family. These may seem harmless, but they’re enough to let fraudsters know when you were born, when you’re out of the house and how they might draw more information out of you with a phishing email. Ensuring that your photos and status updates are set to private reduces this possibility.

3. Use Two-Factor Verification
Enabling two-factor or two-step verification helps prevent fraudsters from cracking the password to your email or bank account. Attackers would have to clear a secondary security hurdle, too, for example a unique code that’s sent to your phone or a series of security questions only you know the answer to. Enabling two-factor verification wherever it’s offered (including Facebook, Twitter and Gmail) helps safeguard your personal details.

4. Install Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software
Anti-virus and anti-malware software provide an effective defense against attempts to steal your information. Malware is now most commonly used to make money. Ransomware and data-stealing Trojans are much more common than viruses. Anti-virus and anti-malware programs routinely handle known bad code. Make sure to update regularly to protect against new attacks.

5. Update Regularly

  • Operating system updates – Windows delivers regular updates that require you to take little or no action in order to install them. Windows will pop up a message saying there are updates available. Click to install the update or run Windows Update and follow the instructions for installing any of the updates that appear.
  • Software and application updates – Some applications, such as Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Office, are just as important to keep up-to-date. When these programs release updates, install them right away. If you are not sure if an update notification is authentic, go directly to the website.