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Jack Poltorak, Virtual Chief Information Security Officer, NetSmart Plus

Protecting your Online Presence

October is National Cybersecurity Month and the National Cyber Security Alliance 2019 campaign is to Own IT, Secure IT and Protect IT.

Technology is present in every aspect of our lives.  Social Media, Smart Devices, computers at work, at home or at school and much more.  This makes understanding a Cybersecurity threat very important.

Here are some simple steps that everyone can take to stay safe online.

  • Make your passwords or Passphrase Long and Strong
    Usernames and Password are considered “something you know.”  This information can be compromised by such things as a Phishing Email or a Data Breach.

    • Use complex passwords that are made up of upper and lower charters, numbers and symbols.
    • Password Length should be no less than 12 characters in length.
    • Never reuse a password.  If a password is compromised and you reuse a password on different sites, this will provide the attacker with easy access to other accounts.  Considering each account important is critical.
  • 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) or Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) – The terms are very similar but activating this on your accounts is a second layer of protection from getting compromised.  This method is considered “something you have”.  Most online services will have this available for activation.
    • Email Accounts
    • Social Media Accounts
    • Banking Accounts
    • Utilities Accounts
    • Any additional Critical accounts
  • Updating your Computers, Smart Devices and Internet of Things (IoT) – Updating your devices is a critical step to protect you, your business, your information and security while on those devices.  Regularly vendors provide security patches and feature updates that help with securing the devices.  Attackers take advantage of the known vulnerabilities and prey on individuals that have not updated their devices.  Don’t be fooled by thinking your device is safe from compromise.  These updates impact all computer manufactures like Windows, MACs and even Linux based devices.  Smart Phones and Tablets are in this list as well.  And the new comer to the list are the Internet of Things (IoT) devices.  These are your Routers/Firewalls, Smart Appliances, Security Cameras, Thermostats and much more.
  • Install Endpoint Detect and Respond (EDR) Software or Anti-Virus (AV) – This again is something that should be installed on any platform that you can protect.  In todays threat landscape, the EDR Software is not only monitoring for known threats but also monitoring activity on the devices as well as on the network from intrusion.  Each device connected to your network is a potential entry point for security threats.  Having a broader view of what is actually happening on your network is a necessity.  This solution is primarily meant for the businesses and commercial use.  While on a personal computer we recommend using an AV with a paid subscription for all types of devices.  For example thinking a MAC does not get a virus in todays environment is leaving a door open for exploitation.  There are many known viruses or malicious software that impact the devices we use on a daily basis.
  • Malicious Applications and Phishing Emails
    Links in your Email, Smart Devices and so on could contain Malicious Applications or Phishing Email.  Here are some quick tips to consider before opening an Email or Text Message:

    • If you do not expect the Email or Text, then it is probably questionable.
    • Is the Email or Text from someone you know?
    • Does the Email or Text make you feel like you need to do something right now or is time sensitive?  Then it is probably questionable
    • Is the context of the Email or Text in a format that you would expect.
    • And more
  • Limit your Personal Information/Don’t Over Share
    Social Media as well as other sites ask for more information about you then is needed.  Follow these recommendation.

    • Limit what you share with the web site when creating your account.  With breaches happening so frequently, we tend to feel that we have no control over our data.  We can limit the information that is contained in some services.  When registering, provide the minimum amount of information that is possible.
    • Limit what you share when using the site.  Does the Internet need to know when you go on vacation, the store, your kids school.  This could tell someone when you are not home.
    • Lock down who can see your Personal Information is you can.  This will require someone to be allowed access to view your posts providing that additional layer of protection


With new threats being created and found on a daily basis, we need to be vigilant.  The End User is the last line of defense of allowing a malicious attacker a foot hold in a business network, business or personal web sites and more.

Security is not meant to be easy, but implementing these steps will protect you, your co-workers, family and friends from potential attacks and compromises.

If you are a business and are interested in learning more about the services that Netsmart Plus can provide, fill out our form and a representative will contact you about the opportunity.


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