As recent large-scale cyberattacks suggest, there’s no time like the present to focus on online security
By Doug Vehovec
xperts called it a “potential disaster for smart home devices.” The complexity of the disruption challenged governments across the globe, and the scope of the attack was “unprecedented.” On Oct. 21, Domain Name System (DNS) provider Dyn was the target of the largest cyberattack of its kind on record. The attack on Dyn, which manages internet services for some of the world’s biggest companies – Amazon.com, CNN, Starbucks and Netflix to name just a few – highlighted how connected today’s world is, and how disruptive and dangerous an assault on the infrastructure of the internet can be. The cyberattack, and others like it, leave consumers and individuals feeling helpless and wondering what they can do to protect themselves in an online environment that’s constantly evolving and growing more complicated. With personal information at risk through not only e-commerce but the ubiquitous “internet of things” age, there are steps to take that can minimize dangers for online users. “One of the greatest things you can do is take responsibility and educate yourself,” says Kevin Goodman, managing director and partner at Blue Bridge Networks, a technology solutions provider in Cleveland. “It doesn’t have to be very complicated, or one doesn’t have to be really tech-savvy in order to focus and get up to speed.”
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Goodman recommends one of the best resources for this is staysafeonline.org, a website that both businesses and individuals can use that offers tips and news for cybersecurity and privacy to help mitigate online risk. He likens the possibility of online danger to a bad neighborhood, noting that there are often legitimate reasons for going there, but keeping common sense in mind to reduce risk.
BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU CLICK ON Particularly during the holiday season, malicious hackers will use emails for online scams, phishing and malware distribution. “Think before you click,” Goodman says. “People are really prone to click right away without thinking what they’re doing, and they open themselves to a very vulnerable state. So if an email looks too good to be true, it’s most likely too good to be true.”
READ THE FINE PRINT Consumers should always be mindful of the fine print on all online contracts and transactions. Although it may seem boring and mundane, getting into the habit of reading the details can help avoid unwanted monthly charges. “Also, read very carefully the privacy policies and understand them,” Goodman said. “If you click the link, does it allow that company to sell your information for any purposes whatsoever? Be mindful of that.”
LOOK FOR THE ‘S’ Web addresses can show you ahead of time how safe your information will be. In order to show how secure a website is,