October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  

Ok, before you get the glazed over eyes, bear with me a minute here.  This is going to be another of those ‘you should do your updates’ posts, but my hope is that it’s also a reminder of the seriousness of [a lack of] security on your personal computer.  One thing that we hear over and over is something like ‘Oh, I don’t do my banking online, so I’m not too worried about it’.  The truth is though, attackers rarely want the $12.00US that you’ve managed to amass in your checking account (or the $13.00US that you’ve been able to scrape togeher in savings), they want to use  your computer to rip other folks off, or to host child porn, or to store stolen credit card numbers or to launch attacks against larger sites (if your site is the source of the attack, it’s your fault, not the attackers).  A lot of people are fearful of security or the implications of trying to deploy it in their home or office and, rather than even trying, take an ostrich type approach and stick their heads in the sand, believing that ‘it will never happen to them’.  Unfortunately, that leaves a pretty tender area exposed.  

So, what to do?  First, acknowledge the need for security and either do it yourself (there are a plethora of sites out there with the information, I’ve included some links below) or hire someone to do it for you.  Second, and this is where a lot of folks drop the ball, DO IT.  Get a firewall.  Look at what’s installed on your computer and make sure that you have the most up-to-date (stable) version, paying special attention to Microsoft (Windows, Office, etc.), Adobe (Reader, Flash, etc.) and Java.  Third, find a good source of information on relevant threats and read their blog 🙂

Where can I get more:

US CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team)

Internet Storm Center / SANS