Cyber Spring Cleaning

Lynnetta Eyachabbe

It’s finally Spring! That’s right, you know what that means… SPRING CLEANING! Our Security Operations and Architecture Director, Aaron Baillio, gives us his cyber cleaning expertise:

On average, we spend 4 hours a day on our smart phones. We spend at least that much, if not more on computers daily. The rest of our time is filled with things like smart TVs, video game consoles, digital assistants, e-readers, and activity trackers. We rely quite heavily on our technology and it’s time we shed bad behaviors when it comes to our digital lives. So, it’s time to do some spring cleaning!

First, it’s time to shed bad password behavior.

How many of you use the same username and passwords for ALL of the sites you visit? The concern is that if one site is compromised, then all of your sites are now susceptible to compromise. If you reuse that same username/password combo over and over again, it makes it very easy for an attacker to replay those credentials.

So, how can you protect your passwords?

Let’s clean out old, re-used passwords by using a password manager. Google “password manager” and you’ll get a whole list of popular tools. A password manager makes it so you only remember one password and then let the tool fill in your password on every site you visit. This allows you to switch up your passwords for every site and never need to know what the password is for the site. But, if you ever need it, the password vault allows you to look it up. Some of the most reputable include Lastpass, Dashlane and OnePass.  Lastpass, for example, is totally free and can be synced across multiple devices. First step complete, we’ve cleaned up our passwords!

Now its time to make sure your digital devices are clean. 

How do you keep a clean machine?  Two important things:

  • Keep your devices up-to-date
  • Run an antivirus program

Verizon’s annual data breach report says that technical hacks are back on the rise and malware is at an all time high. Often, both approaches use old, tried and true vulnerabilities and software weaknesses where patches have long since been released. Are you ignoring those updates? What about the Java or Flash update? Those are always the two most compromised software programs annually, and easy to fix. Just stay on top of patches! It takes a few minutes but can save a lot of heartache later.

Which brings us to malware.

Malware is dirty and will slowly degrade the performance of your machine and more than likely release personal information to a third party. Malware can be picked up without you knowing it, based on sites you visit, ads you click and emails you receive. It’s important that you regularly check for malicious programs. Anti-malware/antivirus programs can be free and there are some reputable ones available.

We highly recommend using the following programs:

  • Sophos
  • Malwarebytes
  • Bitdefender

Now that you’ve cleaned up do you feel like you’ve channeled that springtime energy effectively? Let’s finish this semester strong. Happy Spring!