As society gets more and more dependent on computers and technology, hackers get more and more clever. You may think you are keeping your critical data secure by using a password and downloading anti-virus software. However, the biggest threat to your personal and business information is you. When it comes to network security, people are the weakest links. A kind of “people-hacker” called social engineers are experts at garnering information from you, and they can use that information to steal your data, your personal information, and your money. Don’t let these guys ruin your day—here are ten ways to protect yourself from social engineers.

  1. Ensure that your antivirus software is routinely updated. It’s important to use a high quality software (that means one you pay for, not one you download for free offline!). If you want recommendations, your MSP will be happy to help you.
  2. Use different passwords for your accounts, networks, and servers. Basically, anything you log into should have a separate password, and you should change them frequently. Don’t make them easy to guess, either. Writing your passwords down in a memo on your phone to jog your memory is safer than making them all the same.
  3. Use creative security questions and answers. When you have to use security questions to make your account safer, be as creative as possible! If you can write your own questions, make them strange. If you have to answer with your mother’s maiden name, replace a letter with a number.
  4. Use two-factor authentication whenever possible. This is especially important for when you are logging in remotely. A two-fact authentication requires an additional step in the log in process like providing a PIN or scanning a fingerprint in addition to a password.
  5. Turn on the privacy settings on your social media sites (especially Facebook), as these places provide personal information that can be used to answer security questions. Social engineers will check your social media sites first before ever trying to guess your passwords. Don’t make it easy for them to find answers!
  6. Verify, verify, verify. Make absolutely sure that the person calling or emailing you is who they say they are if they are attempting to gain access to private information like account info or passwords.
  7. If you cannot identify the person over the phone, hang up. Call the person back using public or corporate contact information. This is particularly important when dealing with someone claiming they are with the IRS (who never call you) or your bank.
  8. Backup regularly in case of emergency. The more often you backup your files, the safer you are. If your information is stolen from you by a hacker, your managed service provider can recover it if you have reliable backups.
  9. Report suspicious activity. If you get a strange phone call or email, report the incident to your MSP so that they can investigate the issue and potentially block the hacker. Best case scenario, the problem is nipped in the bud and all your data remains safe.
  10. Give your employees awareness training. Like we mentioned earlier, people are the biggest threat. Humans make mistakes. If you let your employees know how they can protect themselves from social engineers, your entire business will be much safer.

Don't let your company's IT security fall by the wayside. Call your local Fort Wayne IT support or MSP to discuss what you can do to increase your internet safety. Be sure to comment below with your own experiences with social engineering!