#YHSafetyTips - Online Safety

Posted by Ashley Bechtel in #YHSafetyTips, Jan 25, 2017

In today’s world, everything is online, everything is connected, and everything is vulnerable. You need to be aware of all the dangers you face while online, and how to prevent them. This includes how to keep your computer clean, recognize dangerous files, create secure passwords, and proper training for employees.

Keeping Your Computer Clean

When installing software or programs on your computer, you should check with your IT department to make sure that it is legitimate. It is very easy to disguise harmful programs as legitimate software. This can be as simple as copying the appearance of websites and programs and switching letters in a word to make it look correct at a quick glance. For example, if you’re in a hurry you might mistake “Gooogle” as correct, when in fact it is actually “Google”. This is just one of many tactics that hackers use to trick users into downloading their files, so be sure to pay close attention when installing programs on your machine.

Recognizing Dangerous Files

The most common place to run in to dangerous files is through emails. You have to be careful of attachments that are sent to you, even if they are from known senders. Typical file types that are sent through email for business use are .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .docx, .pages, and .xlsx. These files are generally considered safe, if you’re expecting them.

If you receive an email with an attachment with a different file extension, especially .exe files, you should be very cautious of opening them. Some files, including the .exe files can execute code immediately after they are opened and infect your computer and possibly your entire network. It should be noted that even if the sender of the email is someone that you know and receive files from regularly, that it is entirely possible that a hacker gained access to their account and is sending malicious files. Don’t assume just because you know where it’s coming from that it’s a safe file to open.

Creating Secure Passwords

Depending on where you look, you’ll get different recommendations for creating strong passwords. Generally, it is advised that you use at least 12-14 characters in length, with at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, and one special character. A special character is any of the symbols on the keyboard including (!@#$%^&*~`-=+\/).

But what about the actual words you use? It is not secure to use the following in your password because they can be easily guessed:

  • -Any portion of your name
  • -Any portion of your address
  • -Your phone number
  • -Your pet(s) name(s)
  • -Numbers that are in a row – 12345 for example
  • -The word “password”
  • -Any other commonly guessed words or pieces of information

The top 10 most commonly used password for 2016 according to the Huffington Post are:

  • 10. 987654321
  • 9. 123123
  • 8. password
  • 7. 1234567
  • 6. 1234567890
  • 5. 111111
  • 4. 12345678
  • 3. qwerty
  • 2. 123456789
  • 1. 123456

Additionally, you do not want to re-use the same password for multiple sites. That way, if someone does gain access to your email, for example, they won’t be able to access your online banking. To view more information on how to create a secure password, check out How-To Geek’s article here.

Proper Training for Employees

If you teach your employees to speak up when something doesn’t seem right, they might be able to prevent a major security breach from happening. Every company has a different level of security policies that they follow, and it is important that your employees know what they are and are not allowed to do on their machines. This can include appropriate browsing on the internet, software that is allowed to be installed, and file types that are typically shared.

Final Thoughts

Staying safe online is a difficult thing in this day and age. Hackers are constantly coming up with new ways to get in to places they shouldn’t be, which is why it is important now more than ever to take every effort possible to protect yourself. If you take the time to train your employees to use the above techniques, you will greatly reduce the risk of a security breach at your company.

Did you miss last week’s post on how Guardrails can be useful in your facility? If so, click here to read it.

Check back next week when we discuss how to avoid back injuries at work.

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