Total Defense

Security & Safety Resource Center

Learn about today's current internet threats and how to stay safe and secure.

Security Tip of the Day

Daily tips to create awareness of cyber threats and empower Total Defense users to be safer and more secure online.

March 2023

What’s a denial-of-service attack?

A denial-of-service (DoS) attack occurs when genuine users are unable to access information systems, devices, or other network resources due to the activities of a malicious cyber threat actor. Services affected may involve email, websites, online accounts (e.g., banking), or other services that rely on the affected computer or network. A denial-of-service is accomplished by inundating the targeted host or network with traffic until the target cannot respond or basically crashes, stopping access for legitimate users. DoS attacks can cost an organization both time and money while their resources and services are unreachable.


Learn to use the restore feature on your computer

Many OSes have a “restore” feature enabling you to reverse its configuration to a previous state. This can be useful if anything goes wrong, such as a faulty OS or driver update. To find it in Windows 10, click the Recovery tab in Settings. Here, you’ll find options such as resetting your PC, advanced startup options and performing a clean install of Windows.


Do not give sensitive information in reply to unsolicited calls or emails

Chances are, you wouldn’t give someone your Social Security number or address to a stranger who asked for it on the street. Likewise, you shouldn’t hand it over to someone who calls purporting to be a tech support specialist (a common scam) or in an email saying you’ve won a prize and need to fill in some additional information.


Keep your OS updated – including manual updates

Windows and macOS devices have automatic updates turned on by default, but there are usually updates you can perform manually, too. While optional, these updates can be very useful in maximizing the security of your devices and improving the performance of your OS, especially if you’ve been experiencing any problems that the automatic variety hasn’t solved. If you’re using Windows 10, go to Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Update -> View optional updates. Here, you can potentially find additional updates for Windows and other devices you own.


Know the security of your networking tech

Different pieces of technology often utilize unique security features. For example, you may know your way around your router’s security settings, but what if you use a powerline adapter or Wi-Fi extender? Whatever networking tech you have, familiarize yourself with how to use it safely for maximum peace of mind.


Is a digital signature secure?

A digital signature—a type of electronic signature—is a mathematical algorithm routinely used to validate the authenticity and integrity of a message (e.g., an email, a credit card transaction, or a digital document). Digital signatures generate a virtual fingerprint that is unique to a person or entity and are used to identify users and protect information in digital documents or messages. In emails, the email content itself becomes part of the digital signature. Digital signatures are considerably more secure than other forms of electronic signatures.


Real police officers don’t communicate by phone, text or chat

A common tactic for bad actors to scam people into giving up valuable personal information is to pose as a police officer when contacting a potential victim. However, just because someone says they’re a law enforcement officer doesn’t mean they are. This goes for all forms of remote communication, including phone calls: If someone claiming to be an officer contacts you, don’t speak with them, as officers will visit your home directly if they want to speak with you. Note that there are some exceptions to this rule, such as if you solicit a call from the police department. If you’re not sure, dial their department directly and ask if the call is genuine.


Know that your ISP can track your search history

Most people understand by now that there’s no such thing as absolute privacy online, and even private browsers can’t control what your ISP can see. Don’t look for information on how to do anything illegal or dangerous, and don’t search for any sites or content that are against the law.


Block unfamiliar phone numbers, particularly if they call you repeatedly

Phone call spam has gotten much worse throughout the 2020s, with many people receiving multiple scam calls per day. Most smartphones allow specific numbers to be blocked, which is worthwhile for any number that you don’t know and aren’t expecting any calls from.


Adjust the privacy settings on your browser

Whether it’s Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox or any other major browser, they all contain privacy settings that you can customize to fit your needs. These options control common features of websites, such as site permissions, location data, trackers and advertisements. For example, you can decide whether you’ll only receive trackers from sites you frequently visit, all sites or no sites.


How to defend against cryptojacking

Employ Cybersecurity best practices to help you protect your internet-connected systems and devices against cryptojacking. Be sure to use and maintain antivirus software – it recognizes and protects a computer against malware – allowing you to detect and remove a possibly unwanted program before it can do any harm. It’s best to make sure your software and operating systems up to date so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities.


Don’t believe statistics from unreliable sources

This goes for pretty much all information online, but bogus statistics are rampant all over the internet. If you’re writing a paper, article or anything else that cites statistics, try to get them directly from a reputable research study — if a site doesn’t say where it got its numbers, they may not be reliable.


Beware of phishing on new or unfamiliar website

When visiting a website for the first time – perhaps via an email link – lookout for the telling signs of phishing. These may involve misspellings and grammatical mistakes on the page, aggressive advertising and particularly unusual and complex URLs. If you see some or all of them, leave the website straightaway.


Vaccinate your USB drives

A common feature in antivirus software is the option to “vaccinate” USB drives. This prevents any malware from automatically running as soon as you plug it in. While this feature often goes by different names from software to software, it can be useful if you commonly share USB drives with friends or co-workers.


Stay away from malicious phone apps that ask to change your launcher

Phone launchers offer more features and functionality people love. However, stay away from malware that represents itself as a legitimate launcher. Your launcher controls virtually everything on your phone, and using a malicious launcher can be a severe security risk, not to mention it’s likely to make your phone unusable. They can also be tricky to remove: They have defenses against being uninstalled unless you can swap to a different launcher.


Don’t click on pop-up window links

Because many pop-up windows encountered on the internet are often a product of spyware, clicking on the window could install spyware software on your computer. To close the pop-up window, click on the “X” icon in the title bar instead of a “close” link within the window or restart your computer if necessary.


What’s Bluetooth used for?

Bluetooth is a technology that permits devices to connect with each other without cables or wires. It is an electronics “standard,” which means that producers that want to include this feature must include specific requirements into their electronic devices. These specifications safeguard that the devices can distinguish and interact with other devices that also use Bluetooth technology.


Make sure you only use legitimate security software

Security software is all but vital on Windows and macOS devices, and there’s a wide range of security software to choose from, many with unique features. However, there’s also a variety of malware posing as security software. Only use security software from sources you trust. If you’re not sure if security software is legitimate, do a search for it and see what others’ experiences with it are.


Be careful with whom you share remote computer control

Remote computer control can be useful when troubleshooting if you need someone else to view what’s on your computer. However, when you share that control they’ll have full access to everything on your computer. Only give control to people you can trust. Also, make sure you’re aware of how to instantly cancel the remote control, or shut down should you need to.


Beware of phishing text messages

Phishing scams aren’t limited to email. It’s a good habit not to respond to any text messages from senders you don’t recognize. If you receive a suspicious text that claims to be from a person you know or a popular company, double-check by making a new text message thread with the person or contacting the company in question.