Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Safeguard Yourself from Malware

It is common knowledge that spam messages oftentimes contain malicious components designed to track your whereabouts online to collect financial information, harvest your address book to do the same to your contacts, and/or distribute a virus.  Although these messages are almost always intercepted by our security measures at District 219 and placed in your quarantine folder, their purpose can still be realized.

Opening suspicious messages in your quarantine folder is the number one way to spread the infection. Major corporations to educational institutions and all points in between have been hit with “spear-phishing” and “whaling” attacks which compromises their employees’, customers’, and clients’ security. These attacks are designed with one purpose - identity theft for financial gain. They are not random acts to “test the fence,” they are targeted attacks.

It is important to be skeptical when online:

  • Don’t open attachments from unknown sources;
  • Be wise when online using free hot spots;
    • Make sure that your device has a solid anti-virus suite installed.
    • Keyloggers and other malware are easily transmitted through unsecure wireless connections.
  • Don’t use the same passwords on multiple devices and change them often;
  • Don’t use real information for your security questions:
    • ie: Royal Wedding scam seemed like a cute social media quiz to come up with your royal name. In actuality it was gathering your mother’s maiden name, father’s middle name, place you were born, etc. All security questions for most banking websites.
  • Most “Scareware” emails are near flawless counterfeits. Be sure that the link you’re directed to matches the supposed sender; (hover over the link to get the full URL)
    • Visit the corporate website and navigate to the section the email referenced.
    • Most companies will not send you a security request via email.
    • Other scareware claims that your computer is filled with viruses - Don’t be fooled into clicking on the notice. It is another attempt to install malware onto your machine.
  • Be careful about oversharing on social networking sites.
    • Sharing your excitement over your last purchase could give hackers enough information to make you a prime target for spear-phishing or even a physical break-in at your home.

It seems that virus infections are on the decline while other online threats are on the rise. Although District 219 takes diligent efforts to protect its faculty, staff, and students from malicious online threats, there is still the possibility that something gets through. Please protect yourself and your District 219 family from spam, viruses, and malware.

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