The internet is full of threats to your computer, your personal information, and your identity! You need to know how to protect yourself from the dangers lurking in the various corners of cyberspace. The IT department maintains many services including anti-virus software, firewall systems, and intrusion prevention in order to maintain the highest levels of security for our network and connected systems. Even so, we cannot counter every threat, especially when users access resources from off-campus locations. Therefore, it's everyone's responsibility to observe safe computing practices.
The following articles have more information about some of the current threats to your online security and steps that you can take to protect yourself:
Today cyber security threats are hard to detect. Enter "Ransomware." It is a very real and extremely fast growing threat we all need to be informed about. Targets have included Amazon users, hospitals, the House of Representatives, higher education etc. As a matter of fact, the FBI recently issued an advisory about ransomware. How quickly is the threat growing?
- In the first quarter of 2016, the number of phishing emails hit 6.3 million. This is a 789% increase over the last quarter of 2015. Of these, 93% of the emails contained or linked to ransomware. (Source: CSOonline.com)
So what is ransomware? When downloaded to your computer it encrypts your data--rendering your documents, pictures, and other files inaccessible until you pay a "ransom" to the perpetrators. Ransomware can also infect other computers on a network, making it a threat to all of us.
While Warrior Run continues to improve our security measures, our best defense against ransomware is you! Here are some best security practices for both your Warrior Run and personal computer(s).
- As stated earlier, the majority of ransomware is delivered via phishing attempts. These emails often encourage immediate action, may appear to come from a reputable source, or may even have a From line of someone familiar to you sharing a "funny photo" or a link "...you might find interesting." Read your emails CAREFULLY and don't randomly click on links and/or attachments!
- Unfortunately antivirus programs frequently will not catch ransomware. Be sure to keep your operating system patched and up-to-date. Also, it is VERY important to have a backup of your important documents, data, and photos. It may be your last resort.
Below is a link (not ransomware--I promise!) to a video with more comprehensive information:
Still have questions about ransomware or information security questions in general? Contact the tech department.
Phishing is the act of attempting to acquire private details such as usernames, passwords, or credit card numbers by posing as a trusted entity. Phishing usually takes the form of an email, text message, or message through an online chat service where the sender appears to be an administrator from a trusted organization such as your school, employer, bank, or social network. Within these messages, recipients are urged to take action by logging into a fake website, clicking on a link, or providing personal information by replying to the message.
In some instances, people are directed to fake websites which look nearly identical to their legitimate counterparts, which lead people to assume the spoofed websites are authentic. In other cases, fake websites are more obvious. Always check the URL bar in your browser to confirm that you are on a legitimate site before entering any account details or other personal information.
Because of their technology-rich environments, school communities are frequently targeted by phishing attacks. At Warrior Run, we often encounter phishing campaigns designed to obtain WR logins and passwords of as many of our users as possible. These messages often arrive disguised as an email from "IT Staff" or "Helpdesk," alerting recipients to an urgent problem with their accounts. Here are a few examples of real phishing campaigns
From: WebCashmgmt <thisthsytwrafehdkflnvsjwallwlsj>
Date: Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Subject: Important Notice – Incoming Money Tranfer
An Incoming Money Transfer has been received by your financial
Institution. In order for the funds to be remitted on the correct accountplease complete the “A136 Incoming Money Transfer Form”.
Fax a copy of the completed “A136 Incoming Money Transfer Form” to +1
800 722 1899.
To avoid delaysor additional fees please be sure the Beneficiary Information including name, branch, address, city, state, country and Routing Number (ABA number) or SWIFT BIC Code is correct. For International Wires be sure you include the International Routing Code (IRC) and International Bank Account Number (IBAN) for countries that require it.
Cash Management Verification
From: Warrior Run School District <email@example.com
Date: Tue, May 14, 2013 at 9:17 AM
Your two incoming mails is on pending status due to our recent database
http://warrior run.webs.com/ to lo-gin for online account upgrade and await Tech Deskfor response, we apologies for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.
Turbotville, PA 17772
Copyright © 2008 Warrior Run School District All rights reserved.
Many phishing messages -- like the above -- are easy to spot, but with some research and preparation, an attacker can prepare a very convincing message or even build a fake version of a Warrior Run website.
Always remember: The technology department will never ask you for your username and password in an email message or online chat.
If you are unsure about a particular message, call or email the Tech Dept. -- we are here to help.
Computers which have been infected with spyware and viruses are often the victims of "Drive-By Downloads." In this scenario, an attacker waits for unsuspecting users to visit a webpage which has been designed to exploit a known technological flaw in software and/or trick a user into installing software.
Drive-by downloads often require user action-- running a downloaded file -- to complete the attack. If you're prompted to install software that you didn't specifically request, chances are high that you've stumbled into a drive-by download attempt.
Frequently, drive-by downloads take advantage of known security holes in common browser plug-ins such as Flash, Acrobat or Java. Drive-by downloads can even use flaws in the web browsers such as Internet Explorer or Firefox.
The best defense against this type of drive-by download is to keep your computer's software fully up to date. It is easy to keep operating systems such as Windows or OSX current since update processes are built-in and enabled by default. However, it is just as important to keep all of your other software up to date as well. Enable auto-updating and apply the patches as soon as they are available.
Security Tips for Smartphones and Tablets
Smartphones and tablets have made it possible to access your email, social networks, and online files easier than ever.
They are great tools, but their mobility also creates an inherent risk. The small size of these devices makes them prone to loss or theft. In the wrong hands, a stolen device can be used to access your online accounts including your Warrior Run email, Google Docs, credit cards, and online banking. Any confidential data which may have been stored on the device can be accessed or lost.
Here are a four tips to help keep your mobile devices secure:
1. Lock your device with a PIN or a password and enable the device's auto-lock feature so that a PIN is required after 5 or more minutes of inactivity.
2. Register your device with a service such as Apple's iCloud which allows you to securely erase a lost or stolen device.
3. Keep your phone's software up to date. Be sure to apply updates to your operating system and apps as soon as they are available.
4. Back up your phone. If your device is lost or stolen, a recent backup will make the process of setting up a replacement device much easier.