Are You a Target for Hackers?

Protection concept: arrows in Shield With Keyhole target on wallBy Bruce Barnett, NYSTEC Information Security Consultant

Let’s be honest:  everyone who has a computer is a potential target for cybercriminals, but not all targets are equal.  How much effort a hacker may be willing to expend to compromise your account or your computer depends on what your information is worth.  Continue reading

Is it Phishing?

Have you ever received an email from a company that you would have sworn was a phishing scam (a method of online identity theft and virus spreading) — and yet wound up being completely legitimate? In an age of increasing cybersecurity, customers are becoming more wary of potentially fraudulent email messages. And yet, when companies take pains to  make their email notifications more secure, the end result can be a suspicious-looking (but safe) email.

How can companies send their customers email securely without sacrificing user-friendliness? This article from Lenny Zeltser looks at the challenges in “How to Send Customer Emails That Don’t Look Like Phishing.”

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Hashed and Salted and Peppered, Oh My!

Security breaches are becoming a fact of life. We may be tempted to just discard a company’s official notification about a breach, especially when it’s couched in legalese and technical terms. But it’s worth reading such notifications so that you can determine what the company did to protect your information—and what actually happened to cause the breach. Continue reading

Biggest-Ever Hack of User Data

catena d'oroRemember that cybersecurity breach Yahoo announced back in September 2016, reporting that 500 million user accounts had been hacked two years earlier? Earlier this week, the company outdid itself by reporting it also had been breached (in what seems to be a separate attack) in August 2013—and 1 billion accounts were compromised.

Continue reading

Cyber Security Shopping Tips

Senior couple doing shopping on internetBy Paul Romeo, NYSTEC Information Security Consultant

Being a safe and secure shopper starts with taking security precautions and thinking about the consequences of your actions online. Remember the following tips:

  • Use websites with trusted names and strong reputations. Well-established retailers usually have more robust online security.
  • Use credit cards instead of debit cards. A compromised debit card will enable access to your money, but a compromised credit card will only expose the bank’s money, and the consumer is typically not responsible for purchases they did not make. Just be sure to regularly check your statement and notify your credit card company of any suspicious charges. Whenever possible, use a payment service like PayPal.
  • Look for the “https” URL and the padlock symbol.  The “s” in “https” stands for security. It signals that the site uses encryption.

https-url-padlock-symbol

  • Avoid using public WiFi for online shopping. Public WiFi is easily compromised. In public, you are better off using your cell phone network with WiFi disabled.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t click on links in emails, texts, or social media posts. Links are the most popular means for cybercriminals to install malware on devices.
  • Make your password a sentence. These days, your password should be more than 15 characters long. Using a remembered sentence mixed with letters, numbers, and symbols is a good way to create a password that’s difficult to crack. Avoid using birthdays or anniversary dates.

Example: #y0uCantH@ckM3!

  • Use different passwords for different accounts. Don’t use the same password twice. If you reuse the same password, hackers need to steal it only once to access all your accounts.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication. Use strong authentication tools. Google and Apple allow two-step verification by sending a one-time PIN to your cell phone coupled with a password while logging in.
  • If possible, use a separate computer for online shopping and banking. Most viruses and malware are transmitted through casual web browsing. If possible, use one computer or device for web surfing, email, and social networking, and a different computer for online banking and shopping.