The holiday season is in full swing! Christmas decorations adorn businesses and houses, and all the smells and sounds of the season are all around us. These are the things I look forward to this time of year.
My two boys, though, have other ideas. They made their Christmas list before Thanksgiving and have made sure it’s made rounds with the family. I remember being a kid excited about what I was going to get for Christmas. Now, I enjoy giving the gifts more than receiving them.
But that got me thinking. What would be on my cybersecurity wish list for Christmas this year for my friends, family, and everyone else? So, Santa when you see this, please distribute these gifts to all the good adult boys and girls this holiday season.
Expansion of Cybersecurity Education
If you were a fan of Game of Thrones, you may have heard the phrase “Knowledge is Power” from Littlefinger. While it didn’t work out that well for him in the end, I do have to agree with him and Sir Francis Bacon: knowledge is power. But what do you do once you have it?
Cyber threats and scams are ever present in our connected world. It is our responsibility to be informed around how to operate in a digital world to ensure the safety of our information and assets. Educating ourselves around how social engineering and other threats can affect us is paramount to staying safe online, and you don’t need a degree in cyber security to do so. Santa may not have that knowledge to gift us but institutions like CISA make it available to all of us.
Implement Security from Solution Providers
Implement the tools available to you. Ensure your online accounts have additional data, privacy, and security settings enabled. These can be things like recovery settings, how your data can be used/viewed by others (looking at you Facebook), and tweaking security settings for spam filters for phone calls and in your email accounts.
Threats are constantly changing and the tools we use to help prevent them are constantly evolving as well. Make sure that you check in and update your account for online services you use and take advantage of security enhancements to stay on Santa’s nice list.
This again Michael? Yes, this again. If you haven’t updated your passwords and implemented multi-factor authentication I will continue to bring it up until you have. This is the single easiest and most impactful thing you can do to help improve the security around the services you use. I would love for Santa to bring MFA to every boy and girl.
Utilization of a VPN
Most of you are now probably aware of what a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is thanks to working from home during Covid. Your corporate VPN was and still is the best way to securely connect to the tools you needed to do your job from home. The VPN ensures that the communication between your computer and the office is secure.
There are consumer-grade versions of VPN solutions you can use to help protect yourself while browsing the internet to keep the communication between your device and your destination secure. Last month I mentioned some risks of using public Wi-Fi. Utilizing a VPN can reduce the risk of using public Wi-Fi by securing your connection and providing anonymity. This way, you don’t have to let Santa know you are getting all your gifts from Amazon and not the North Pole.
Better Device Management
Do you regularly install security patches to your devices or have auto updates enabled? Do you have antivirus solutions installed and are they updated? This year I would like Santa to be the Oprah of security patching and endpoint protection. Everybody gets better endpoint protection!
Eventually you will slip up and click a link you shouldn’t or go to a website that has malicious code. Having your systems up to date and using endpoint protection to protect against known and unknown vulnerabilities will make for a happy holiday season for all.
I trust that even if Santa brings you something else for Christmas this year that you might take the initiative to gift yourself one or more of these for the holiday and beyond. A little MFA wrapped up under the tree in homes around North and South Carolina would be a wonderful Christmas gift I’d like to receive. If I don’t get to see or speak to you before Santa drops by, I hope that you and yours have a wonderful, safe, and secure holiday season and I will see you in the new year!
About Sharonview Federal Credit Union
Sharonview Federal Credit Union, voted in 2018 the No.1 credit union in South Carolina by Forbes, is headquartered in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and has been serving its members since 1955. Today, Sharonview serves over 100,000 members nationwide, has assets totaling more than $1.7 billion and operates 19 branches in North Carolina, South Carolina and New Jersey. It is also ranked as one of the top 200 credit unions in the country, proving its dedication to providing its members with a full array of value-added financial services, all of which are backed by the United States government and federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. Sharonview currently stands above the crowd in delivering the personal touch, providing loans with fewer restrictions, flexible terms and lower rates. For over 60 years, Sharonview has promised exceptional value and delivered financial services members can trust, with us it’s personal.
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