Be On Guard When Online

Safe surfing is about more than making sure your virus software is up-to-date. You have to be watchful of your personal information, your money, and more. Here are some resources for educating yourself about cyber threats.

During my tenure as the administrative officer of a Defense Department command in Philadelphia, I was, for a time, responsible for computer security along with all other security programs. Thankfully, I had some very bright and technologically proficient people on my team. They knew our systems, understood computer security, and they recognized the threats to our command.

But Defense Department systems are not the only ones at risk. Hackers routinely penetrate businesses large and small and steal data for fun and profit.

As small business owners generally lack the technology and the technical ability of the Defense Department’s cyber cops, what can a small business do?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers a hand via their OnGuardOnline program. The FTC and a partnership that includes cyber security experts, online marketers, consumer advocates, and federal officials began the program in 2005.

The website offers practical tips, articles, videos, interactive activities, games, and free, downloadable material that will help you be on guard against internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.

OnGuardOnline offers solid advice on such topics as:

  • How to recognize internet scams.
  • How to shop and conduct business securely online.
  • How to avoid hackers and viruses.
  • How to deal with spam, spyware, and phishing.

You can visit the site to learn about seven vital security practices:

  • 1. Protect your personal information. It’s valuable.
  • 2. Know who you’re dealing with.
  • 3. Use security software that updates automatically.
  • 4. Keep your operating system and web browser up-to-date and learn about their security features.
  • 5. Keep your passwords safe, secure, and strong.
  • 6. Back up important files.
  • 7. Learn what to do in an “e – mergency.”

If you suspect internet fraud, you can register a complaint at the FTC website. The FTC enters internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database utilized by law enforcement officials in the U.S. and overseas.

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