Spam: Strategies For Reducing Unsolicited Emails

Mail box with no spam sign

Spam is a common, and often frustrating, side effect to having an email account. Although you will probably not be able to eliminate it, there are ways to reduce it.

What is spam?

Spam is the electronic version of “junk mail.” The term spam refers to unsolicited, often unwanted, email messages. Spam does not necessarily contain viruses so some valid messages from legitimate sources could fall into this category.

How can you reduce the amount of spam?

  • Be careful about releasing your email address

    Think twice before you respond to any request for your email address, on the web, verbally, or on paper.
    Spammers can harvest any email address posted on a website or buy a list of victims from unscrupulous vendors who sell their mailing list.
    When you give your email address to a company, or a store, that information is often entered into a database so that customer information and preferences can be tracked. If these email databases are sold to or shared with other companies, you can receive email that you didn’t request.
    So the next time you make a purchase and they ask you whether you want an emailed or a printed receipt, choose “Print only”.

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Identity Theft: Preventing and Responding to Identity Fraud

Identity theft: a criminal running away with stolen personal information from a compromised tablet computer.

Following the recent public disclosure that hackers believed to be operating on behalf of a foreign government breached the networks of the U.S. government and multiple US companies, it is safe to assume that online frauds and scams like identity theft will follow.

Identity theft, or identity fraud, is a crime that can have substantial financial and emotional consequences. Take precautions with personal information. If you become a victim, act immediately to minimize the damage.

Is identity theft just a problem for people who submit information online?

You can be a victim of identity theft even if you never use a computer. Malicious people may be able to obtain personal information (such as credit card numbers, phone numbers, account numbers, and addresses) by stealing your wallet, overhearing a phone conversation, rummaging through your trash (a practice known as dumpster diving), or picking up a receipt at a restaurant that has your account number on it.

If a thief has enough information, he or she may be able to impersonate you to purchase items, open new accounts, or apply for loans.

The internet has made it easier for thieves to obtain personal and financial data. Most companies and other institutions store information about their clients in databases; if a thief can access that database, he or she can obtain information about many people at once rather than focus on one person at a time.

The internet has also made it easier for thieves to sell or trade the information, making it more difficult for law enforcement to identify and apprehend the criminals.

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Internet Safety for Children: Keeping Them Safe Online

Internet safety for kids using parental controls

Internet safety for children involves not only keeping them safe, but parents and guardians taking some simple steps to dramatically reduce online threats, especially those that prey on kids, protect the data on computer devices, and keep them safe online.

This is even more critical now as we are in the middle of a health pandemic and children are made to learn from home, and have limited physical interactions with their peers.

What unique Internet safety risks are associated with children?

In terms of Internet safety, when a child is using your computer, normal safeguards and security practices may not be sufficient. Children present additional challenges because of their natural characteristics: innocence, curiosity, desire for independence, and fear of punishment.

You need to consider these characteristics when determining how to protect your data and the child.

You may think that because the child is only playing a game, or researching a term paper, or typing a homework assignment, they can’t cause any harm. But what if, when saving their paper, the child deletes a necessary program file?

Or what if they are tricked by a malicious advertisement to unintentionally visit a web page with inapprorpiate content, or accidentally download a malware that infects the computer with a virus?

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7 Ways to Secure Microsoft 365 Office for Business

Microsoft 365 Office Applications

Most small or medium-size organizations today are using, or migrating to one of Microsoft’s 365 suite of applications. With the recent shift to remote work, and the attendant increase in the use of collaboration tools included with Office 365 business plans, organizations are bound to be targeted by cyber criminals and hackers.

More critically, due to the speed of these deployments, many small organizations may not be fully equipped to consider the security configurations of the cloud-based platforms they are migrating to.

There are continued instances where businesses and organizations, especially those in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) category are not implementing best security practices in regard to their Microsoft Office 365 implementation.

The ultimate result, inevitably, will be the increased vulnerability of these environments to attacks by threat actors or hackers.

If you are in charge of securing the technology infrastructure and applications used in your organization, you can use the guidance in this article to increase the security of your Microsoft 365 Office Suite deployments. (more…)

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Secure Remote Access: Keeping Business Going with Remote Work

Users accessing a business network through secure remote access connectivity

Given current norms and today’s prevailing culture of a mobile “connect from anywhere” user population, organizations have no alternative recourse but to extend connectivity beyond and across their network perimeter in support of business and IT operations through the use of secure remote access.

But providing remote access to critical information systems, servers, and applications is a perilous endeavor. So what’s an institution to do in order to help end users ensure secure remote access to IT resources? The information provided below is to educate your staff, members and board about providing secure remote access and empowering worker productivity.

It is well publicized that today’s attackers are ever vigilant in their attempts to uncover weak points in networks, computers, and mobile devices to establish a foothold and leverage vulnerabilities, thus resulting in the compromise of critical assets or personal information.

Areas of concern that can lead to a breach include the lack of physical security controls available at remote locations, the use of unsecured networks, and the connection of infected devices to internal networks. The challenge is especially daunting when: (more…)

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Two-Factor Authentication: Protecting Your Online Accounts

Laptop and two-factor authentication devices

Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is one of the easiest and most available multi-factor authentication approaches to protecting online accounts.

Analysis of recent online account breaches indicate that weak and reused passwords continue to be a common entry point for account or identity takeover and network intrusions.

Some simple steps and tools like two-factor authentication can help your end users employ unique, strong passwords for their dozens of accounts.

Wouldn’t it be nice if your accounts could let you know when someone new is trying to get into them? Even better, wouldn’t it be terrific to make a stolen password useless to others?

Were you tricked into revealing your password through a phishing scam? Rest easy, your account is safe! That’s essentially the control that two-factor authentication (2FA) — also known as two-step verification or login approval — gives to you. And, it only takes about two minutes to set up and two seconds to use. That’s a lot of power for very little effort!

How does it work?

Once you’ve activated two-factor authentication on an account, whenever an account login with your password comes from a different device from what you’ve already permitted, an authorization check will come to your smartphone or other registered device.

Without your approval or current code, a password thief can’t get into your account. (more…)

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