By Chad Neal,
Most of us remember what business was like before e-mail, before that term even entered our lexicon. The internet has evolved into a tool, a meeting place, and a vast encyclopedia of knowledge. It has also attracted ethical and unethical hackers, devoted to exploiting virtual holes in webpage’s and applications. These hackers create and develop methods and programs to gain sensitive information from users without their direct knowledge.
Our Information Technology (IT) professionals are custodians of the City’s data and network security. They are constantly trying to anticipate security holes and effectively manage our current layers of security. They create security policies for the benefit of the organization and filter internet traffic, because of the potential for harm to the organization.
All IT systems, professional or personal, are vulnerable daily to attack from unscrupulous types that want to impact these systems. Some of these “hackers” merely want to cause mischief, but others wish to cause real damage and want to cripple a system by having professionals spend a great deal of time undoing the damage. As the protectors of our network our IT is vigilant in security, solving attempts to crash our system, and pro-actively seeking ways to prevent future impacts. The job is tiring and challenging, but vital and necessary to keeping our City running 24/7.
When dealing with email, we all need to be on guard as to the risks associated with electronic communication. At a minimum make sure to have software to protect your computer from viruses and spam.
Although we all wish that having software to protect us would be sufficient to eliminate risk, ultimately computer safety can’t be the sole responsibility of the software vendors. The best person to protect your computer and data is you. You provide what software can’t, the human element which is able to recognize when things don’t seem right. If an email seems suspicious, it is always best to delete it. But if you have any doubt as to the validity of the email here are some ways to recognize potentially harmful e-mails:
- If you do not know who the sender is, or which organization they are from, please do not even open the e-mail. If you’d like to check the validity of their e-mail address, try Googling it. If it is a reputable sender, there is sure to be a website or information on their organization.
- If you recognize the sender, but the subject line seems strange, this may be a malicious e-mail. It is up to your judgment as to whether or not to open.
- If you work for an organization that facilitates e-mail and you receive an e-mail that wants you to validate your e-mail account, change your password, or verify your personal information by clicking on a website link, please verify the e-mail with your IT department before clicking on anything. Typically, your organization will not ask you to verify any information about yourself by asking you in an e-mail.
Network security is something to be cognizant of no matter where you are. It applies to all sizes of businesses and home users as well. The internet has revolutionized the world and brought it to our fingertips. Network security is something to be cognizant of no matter where you are. The City is fortunate to have some of the best IT professional’s available to protect the public’s resources, but you don’t have to be an IT expert to protect your home computer, you just need to use your common sense. If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.