OUCH! | October 2016
• You
• Passwords
• Updating
• Backups
Four Steps to Staying Secure
As technology gains a more important role in our lives, it
Guest Editor
also grows in complexity. Given how quickly technology
Ryan Johnson focuses on ensuring that
organizations are prepared to respond to the
changes, keeping up with security advice can be
inevitable breach and teaches Advanced Network
confusing. It seems like there is always new guidance
Forensics at the SANS Institute. Ryan is active on
on what you should or should not be doing. However,
Twitter as @ForensicRJ.
while the details of how to stay secure may change over
time, there are fundamental things you can always do to
protect yourself. Regardless of what technology you are using or where you are using it, we recommend the following
four key steps. To learn more about any of the steps below, refer to the Resources section at the end of this newsletter.
1. You: First and foremost, keep in mind that technology alone will never be able to fully protect you. Attackers
have learned that the easiest way to bypass even the most advanced security technology is by attacking you. If
they want your password, credit card, or personal data, the easiest thing for them to do is to trick you into giving
them this information. For example, they can call you pretending to be Microsoft tech support and claim that
your computer is infected, when in reality they are just cyber criminals that want you to give them access to your
computer. Or perhaps they will send you an email explaining that your package could not be delivered and ask
you to click on a link to confirm your mailing address, when in reality they are tricking you into visiting a malicious
website that will hack into your computer. This is how attacks such as Ransomware or CEO Fraud start. Ultimately,
the greatest defense against attackers is you. Be suspicious. By using common sense, you can spot and stop
most attacks.
2. Passwords: The next step to protecting yourself involves using a strong, unique password for each of your
devices and online accounts. The key words here are strong and unique. A strong password means one that

OUCH! | October 2016
Four Steps to Staying Secure
cannot be easily guessed by hackers or by their
automated programs. Tired of complex passwords
that are hard to remember and difficult to type?
Try using a passphrase instead. Instead of a single
word, use a series of words that is easy to remember,
such as “Where is my coffee?” The longer your
passphrase is, the stronger. A unique password
means using a different password for each device
and online account. This way, if one password is
compromised, all of your other accounts and devices
are still safe. Can’t remember all those strong, unique
By following these four key steps, you will go a
passwords? Don’t worry, neither can we. That is why
long way to protecting yourself while leveraging
we recommend you use a password manager, which
the latest technology.
is a specialized application for your smartphone or
computer that securely stores all of your passwords
in an encrypted format.
Finally, one of the most important steps you can take to protect any account is enable two-step verification.
Passwords alone are no longer enough to protect accounts; we all need something stronger. Two-step verification
is much stronger. It uses your password, but also adds a second step, either something you are (biometrics) or
something you have (such as a code sent to your smartphone or an app on your smartphone that generates the
code for you). Enable this option on every account you can, including your password manager, if possible. Two-
step verification is probably the single most important step you can take to protect yourself, and it’s much easier
than you think.
3. Updating: Make sure your computers, mobile devices, apps, and anything else connected to the Internet are
running the latest software versions. Cyber criminals are constantly looking for new vulnerabilities in the software
your devices use. When they discover vulnerabilities, they use special programs to exploit them and hack into
the devices you are using. Meanwhile, the companies that created the software for these devices are hard at
work fixing them by releasing updates. By ensuring your computers and mobile devices install these updates,

OUCH! | October 2016
Four Steps to Staying Secure
you make it much harder for someone to hack you. To stay current, simply enable automatic updating whenever
possible. This rule applies to almost any technology connected to a network, including Internet-connected TVs,
baby monitors, home routers, gaming consoles, or perhaps even your car. If your operating systems or devices
are old and no longer supported with security updates, we recommend you replace them with new ones that are.
4. Backups: Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, you may be hacked. If that is the case, often your only
option to ensure your computer or mobile device is free of malware is to fully wipe it and rebuild it from scratch.
The attacker might even prevent you from accessing your personal files, photos, and other information stored on
the hacked system. Often the only way to restore all of your personal information is from backup. Make sure you
are doing regular backups of any important information and verify that you can restore from them. Most operating
systems and mobile devices support automatic backups. In addition, we recommend you store your backups in
either the Cloud or offline to protect them against cyber attackers.
An Easier Way to Manage Your Security Awareness Program
SANS Institute’s new Advanced Cybersecurity Learning Platform (ACLP) makes deploying, maintaining, and measuring
awareness programs easier and more effective. Learn more at https:/ securingthehuman.sans.org/u/jGf.
Phishing: https://securingthehuman.sans.org/ouch/2015#december2015
Password Managers:
Two-Step Verification:

Backups: https://securingthehuman.sans.org/ouch/2015#august2015
OUCH! is published by SANS Securing The Human and is distributed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.
You are free to share or distribute this newsletter as long as you do not sell or modify it. For past editions or translated versions,
visit securingthehuman.sans.org/ouch/archives. Editorial Board: Bill Wyman, Walt Scrivens, Phil Hoffman, Bob Rudis, Cheryl Conley