The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) has announced their annual campaign for cyber-security awareness.
Awareness, more than anything, is the most important weapon in securing your enterprises and ensuring that malware doesn’t sneak in through your email servers. Awareness? Doesn’t everybody know about the dangers lurking in cyberspace by now? What we folks in the IT business take for granted is often unknown or ignored by ordinary users. When we get emails from a deposed general of a third world country, asking for assistance in moving $40 million into the US, and offering a percentage for the service, our immediate reaction is to simply delete the email. It’s a painfully obvious scam to most of us and we pay it no attention. But yet, they keep coming in every day. Why do people keep sending out these pathetic attempts to get our bank account numbers? Simple. Because not everybody is aware that it is a scam.
Do people understand the dangers of the Internet, and do they have adequate protection in place? Not really. And even if they do understand the risks, most people just aren’t as protected as they like to believe. A study conducted by NCSA this month showed that over 80 percent of American computer users reported having a firewall installed, but only 42 percent had adequate firewall protection. The study also showed a big disparity between the percentage of people who use anti-virus and anti-spam protection, and the number of people who feel safe from hacker attacks.
NCSA offers several suggestions for staying safe online, and while these suggestions may seem obvious to most, we must take measures to make sure every user is aware of the risks and understands how to safely use email. Their suggestions include protecting your identity, and exercising extreme caution when sharing things like social security numbers and birth dates. The NCSA also advises us to stay up to date on all security tools, and to learn how to “email safely”–and learn how to spot the signs of a fraudulent email.