Cyber Security Month Tech Tip #3

Hello again Digital Citizens. Today I bring you my third tip in my “homage” if you will to Cyber Security Awareness Month. Every October different people and groups that use or do business on the Internet trying to share best practices on using the Internet in a security focused way to spread the word about that protecting your digital identity is an important job. We all tend to forget how easy it is to sometimes give too much information about ourselves online. Even when we think we are doing it in a safe way. So I'll try to do my part by passing on some quick tips that I use everyday to keep Cyber Security in mind and protect my identity and data online.

Don't Open That Attachment

The biggest feature of email, instant messengers and SMS is the ability to send files. Most commonly we receive images of our loved ones or of an event. But very often we also receive files. Files like a PDF of a flyer or schedule. Sometimes even a spreadsheet or word document for work or a volunteer organization you give time to. To put this as clear as possible, this is a no-no.

1. It Is Always Flu Season On The Internet

The term Computer Virus has been a part of the modern lexicon for decades now. But what many people don't realize is how easy it is to not only catch a computer virus but to pass one on to all our digital contacts. Most email services and programs are really good about scanning attachments before an intended user can even see it nowadays because of the years developers of those programs spent fighting the different Internet viruses that have sprung up over the years. But they are not always perfect. So you have to be very careful about files you receive from people. Especially on Instant Messengers (i.e. Facebook Messenger, What's App, Signal, iMessage, etc).

2. Files Can Do Strange Things When We Aren't Looking

Outside of viruses there is another danger with files you receive off the Internet. Files like PDFs and Microsoft Office (excel, word, PowerPoint, etc) can internally contain mini programs that allow them to offer extra functionality like math calculations. In the wrong hands however these files can doing things like send unsolicited emails to all your contacts and install malicious programs on your system without you noticing.

File attachments are necessary. There is no getting around that. But you must use extreme caution when using them.

  1. If you don't know the person or organization sending the file DELETE IT.
  2. If you know the person or organization but were not expecting a file from call the sender and VERIFY IT.

  3. If the file has a file extension you are unfamiliar with DELETE IT and report the email as spam.

Remember to keep Cyber Security in mind throughout the month of October. Feel free to pass along any tips you see on the Internet in reference to Cyber Security under the hashtag #cybersecuritymonth. And if you have a best practice you would like to share please pose it. We can all learn from each other.


Cyber Security Tip #1

Previous Tip

How To Spot A Dangerous Email Attachment

Homeland Security CISA Tips When Dealing With Attachments