You are the weakest link: 5 Tips to keep your data safe

Most organizations recognize the risk to data and the need to protect sensitive information on their server.  But did you know that recent trends have...

Wednesday March 01, 2017

Most organizations recognize the risk to data and the need to protect sensitive information on their server.  But did you know that recent trends have shown that attackers are increasingly looking for sensitive data through user devices? 

End-user attacks

Verizon’s Data Breach Incident Report shows that in 2015 nearly 40% of attacks were directed at end-users – almost exactly the same percentage as targeted server attacks. Attackers are having great success with phishing attacks and other attacks targeting the end-users, slipping under the radar of security controls and intrusion detection mechanisms.

Protect yourself

With today’s digital culture, it’s important that the tradition of community watch programs extend into online communities, raising public awareness about online security threats and the things you can do to help prevent and avoid them. 

Here are some steps to help you become more cautious of phishing and other targeted attacks on your personal devices. Share this information with colleagues, friends and family to keep our communities informed and proactive when it comes to online security. 

1.      Don’t take the bait

Read before you click! You can usually detect phishing emails by looking closely at the content of the message. Look for strange spelling mistakes or poor language. When clicking on any link within an email read the full URL, looking for anything out of the ordinary such as spelling mistakes, numeric addresses or shortened addresses like These signs can often indicate a malicious email. 

2.      “Stranger Danger”

A throwback for some, the warning “stranger danger” isn’t just for children. You should be aware of who you are communicating with on your personal devices. Regardless of the communication mechanism, be sure that you take time to validate the legitimacy of the person on the other end. Don’t share your own personal information with anyone you don’t know. That personal information can be used to steal your identity. 

Learn more about identity theft.  

3.      Avoid the dark.

When browsing online it is always important to be aware of your surroundings. Just as suspicious characters are drawn to unmaintained buildings, unmaintained websites are commonly used for ‘drive by’ malware infections that leave you vulnerable. Exercise caution, just as you would while walking down a poorly lit back ally.

4.      Don’t mix business and pleasure.

Your business computer is likely used to access important and sensitive company data, sometimes caching content, passwords and other details that would be of use to an attacker. If you use that same computer for your recreational browsing at the end of the day, you increase the risks of that important data being accessed by an intruder. 

5.      Don’t keep the key under a mat.

Your passwords are the key to accessing sensitive data. Poorly managed credentials are just like keeping the key to your front door under your welcome mat. Here are some tips for keeping your passwords safe from intruders, but accessible to you. 

  • Use long but memorable passphrases instead of complex passwords you need to write down
  • Use a secure password manager instead of a text file to record seldom used passwords
  • Don’t share passwords with anyone
  • Don’t reuse passwords between online resources (you may not be too worried if your Pinterest password gets stolen, but if that same password is used on your banking site you put yourself at risk)


Jeff Latimer is eSolutionsGroup’s Hosting Services Manager, providing internet and networking design services to clients across Canada. Jeff also led the design of our high-availability data center and co-location facility, the Data Fortress. With more than 20 years of experience designing and building powerful, secure and efficient technology solutions, Jeff is responsible for the administration and maintenance of an enterprise application hosting infrastructure supporting 10,000+ users. He’s the neighbourhood watch for our public sector organizations, keeping informed about the latest security risks and how to protect valuable data.


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