Most people are aware of phishing – or email scams – but they may not realize scammers can also target them with deceptive text messages sent to their smart devices. It’s called “smishing”: a mashup of SMS – for “short message service” – and phishing. Recently a number of our parishioners have been contacted by these scammers with the intent of obtaining Google Play Gift cards or iTunes cards. These messages or emails will often claim to be from Fr. Brendan or from someone working for Fr. Brendan. Below you will find some safety tips, a video from Father Brendan regarding what has been happening and another video outlining some similar attacks.
Please note that everything in our power is being done to protect and safeguard any and all sensitive Parish/Parishioner information.
9 Secure Computing Tips
Tip #1 – You are a target to hackers
- Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility.
- By following the tips below and remaining vigilant, you are doing your part to protect yourself and others.
Tip #2 – Keep software up-to-date
Installing software updates for your operating system and programs is critical. Always install the latest security updates for your devices:
- Turn on Automatic Updates for your operating system.
- Use web browsers such as Chrome or Firefox that receive frequent, automatic security updates.
- Make sure to keep browser plug-ins (Flash, Java, etc.) up-to-date.
Tip #3 – Avoid Phishing scams – beware of suspicious emails and phone calls
Phishing scams are a constant threat – using various social engineering ploys, cyber-criminals will attempt to trick you into divulging personal information such as your login ID and password, banking or credit card information.
- Phishing scams can be carried out by phone, text, or through social networking sites – but most commonly by email.
- Be suspicious of any official-looking email message or phone call that asks for personal or financial information.
Tip #4 – Practice good password management
We all have too many passwords to manage – and it’s easy to take short-cuts, like reusing the same password. A password manager can help you to maintain strong unique passwords for all of your accounts. These programs can generate strong passwords for you, enter credentials automatically, and remind you to update your passwords periodically.
Tip #5 – Be careful what you click
Avoid visiting unknown websites or downloading software from un-trusted sources. These sites often host malware that will automatically install (often silently) and compromise your computer.
If attachments or links in the email are unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don’t click on it.
Tip #6 – Never leave devices unattended
The physical security of your devices is just as important as their technical security.
Tip #7 – Use mobile devices safely
Considering how much we rely on our mobile devices and how susceptible they are to attack, you’ll want to make sure you are protected:
- Lock your device with a PIN or password – and never leave it unprotected in public.
- Only install apps from trusted sources (Apple AppStore, Google Play).
- Keep the device’s operating system up-to-date.
- Don’t click on links or attachments from unsolicited emails or texts.
- Avoid transmitting or storing personal information on the device.
- Most handheld devices are capable of employing data encryption – consult your device’s documentation for available options.
- Use Apple’s Find my iPhone(link is external) or the Android Device Manager(link is external) tools to help prevent loss or theft.
Tip #8 – Install antivirus/anti-malware protection
Only install these programs from a known and trusted source. Keep virus definitions, engines and software up-to-date to ensure your programs remains effective.
Tip #9 – Back up your data
Back up regularly – if you are a victim of a security incident, the only guaranteed way to repair your computer is to erase and re-install the system.