What Can Godzilla Teach Us About Cyber Threats?

Most of you know the story of Godzilla: A gigantic, prehistoric sea monster emerges from the Pacific Ocean.  Godzilla makes his way to Japan and destroys everything in his path. The army uses soldiers, tanks and airplanes to try to stop him, yet, Godzilla continues his rampage laying Tokyo to ruins. Now think of your email as Japan and a hacker as Godzilla. If a cyber threat gets past your defenses, it can destroy your system and your personal information, leaving you devastated.  Here are 5 ways to protect your email and keep Godzilla at bay.

1. Select a difficult password. A password should never be a name or numbers associated with you, nor should you use complete words. A good way to pick a strong password is to use an acronym for a phrase that you are familiar with using upper case, lower case, symbols and numbers. For example: “Yankee doodle went to town riding on a pony” can be used to create a strong and easy to remember password Ydw2tr0@p.

Godzilla hacking a computer!2. Don’t open emails from strange sources. Hackers can hide viruses in emails that you can activate just by opening the message. To be safe, don’t open any emails from people or businesses that you are not familiar with and instead, direct it to your junk folder. If the message is important, they will find another way to contact you. Better to be safe than sorry.  If you are using Microsoft Outlook, make sure to leave the reading pane off. The reading pane gives you a preview of your emails without opening them but it also exposes links and images in your inbox. To make sure you don’t click on malicious content by mistake, leave the reading pane off.

3. Stop clicking on stuff. Don’t click on links, pictures, or attachments in email messages from unfamiliar sources. Hackers insert links and images in seemingly harmless emails. The links and pictures are stored on spammer’s servers and when you click on them, it lets them know that your account is “hot”- meaning a person actively uses it, and it gives them your information.  It can also potentially allow spammers to send you more junk mail and files that could contain harmful contents.

4. Keep your login credentials private. Never enter your username and password into third party apps and never tell it to anyone. Hackers can do plenty of damage without your login and password. Just imagine what they could do if they could access your account at will. Another thing to remember is when signing into web based mail, make sure the URL at the top of the screen is correct and it does not have extra letters, numbers and symbols in it.  Cyber criminals can disguise pages to make them seem like they are your login screen when they are not.

5. Stay off of free Wi-Fi. When you log into free a free public wireless network that does not require a password, the wireless connection is not encrypted.  This means when you use a local coffee shop’s free Wi-Fi, people can easily see your network traffic but not exactly what you’re doing. By using an app like Firesheep, hackers can hijack your system and take over your PC faster than you can say “Mocha Frappuccino”. Also, weak Wi-Fi hotspots can be infected and they can cause damage to your computer when you connect to them. If you need to use Wi-Fi in public, play it safe and get a wireless network card.

Although Godzilla is not real, cyber threats certainly are. Unfortunately, hackers are an increasingly large threat in the modern world and the best defense against them is prevention. In this day and age, we must learn to become security minded and protect ourselves and our information. In other words, keep Godzilla out of the city and he won’t destroy it.

What other tips would you include to prevent cyber threats from attacking your email? Leave your comments below!

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