FireMon’s Cyber Security Tips: 12 Days of Cyber Security Awareness

Tim Woods

At FireMon we eat, sleep, and breathe cybersecurity. And while I generally write about the day-to-day challenges of the enterprise, I thought it might be a good to time to stray off topic just a bit. It’s that time of year when many of us will find ourselves traveling to visit family and friends. But before you take off, let’s think about a few security precautions that can reduce our own personal risk landscape. Some of these may be common sense but hopefully you’ll find a couple nuggets along the way that you may not have considered. So, for your pleasure I give you our 12 days of cybersecurity awareness tips.

  1. Slow your social role

    We’re all socialites nowadays and who doesn’t want to share their exciting experiences with family and friends as we’re in the moment. But before you hit send to post that awesome caption and selfie… take a moment to consider who will see it. Is it just friends only, or friends of friends of friends? Save the memory and wait till you get back home before broadcasting that you that you’re not at home. In today’s connected society it’s just a good best practice not to advertise your whereabouts while away!

  2. Howdy neighbor!

    Let a neighbor know you will be away and ask them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Enlist the help of a neighbor, friend, or family member to swing by once a day to collect any mail or delivered packages. Our neighbors have a key to our house when we’re away and will place any mail, flyers, newspapers, or packages inside our door each day.

  3. What’s black and white and read all over?

    If you don’t have someone who can come by each day while your away, make sure to suspend any newspaper deliveries and ask the post office to place a temporary hold on your mail. Papers stacking up in the yard or a full mailbox is a dead giveaway no one is home.

  4. Clean up your act

    If you have trash receptacles out by the curb or driveway, make sure they find a way back to their assigned position after pick-up. This is where a good neighbor can sure come in handy. Trash cans left out after trash pick-up day is just one tell-tale sign a thief may look for.

  5. I see you

    Affordable peace of mind when your away. Cloud-connected home video camera surveillance has really dropped in price while adding more functionality over the last couple of years. For those who don’t want to go the route of a full-service home security monitoring service, there are many affordable home security camera options available today. As an example, Amazon is offering their Blink XT indoor/outdoor security camera in a 3-camera bundle for under $200. Not a bad deal. All the ones I’ve looked at offer motion detection with real-time alerting and video cloud storage for recordings.

  6. The gift of illumination

    Just as there are many video options available today there are even more home automated lighting options. From smart lights to manual timers there are many clever ways to turn lights on and off while your away. Ideally, you want to mimic the way you would normally use your lights just as if you were home. It is also highly advisable to have outdoor lighting that comes on when movement is detected. Good home lighting is an excellent deterrent for a would-be thief.

  7. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever…

    Once upon a time and a long time ago in a country far far away, door-to-door selling was acceptable and not uncommon. And while we may yearn for some nostalgia from days past, soliciting is not one of them. No soliciting means no soliciting! Solicitors leave behind breadcrumbs, tell-tale signs that they’ve been there and honestly people are not always who they purport themselves to be. It’s better to close the runway before they even have a chance to land by posting a no solicitation sign. This is also what I love about video doorbells because they can give the appearance that someone is home even if they’re not. A connected video doorbell can not only alert you to a solicitor approaching your door but also allow you to communicate with them remotely!

  8. Honey where’s my keys?

    Double check, triple check, that you’ve locked all your doors and windows before you leave. Don’t leave valuables out in the open. If you have a safe use it! A thief can be in and out of your home in 10 minutes. And I’m told they normally head straight to the master bedroom looking for jewelry, watches, any high-value items that are easily carried and concealed.

  9. Man’s best friend

    I love animals’ period, but I have a special affinity to furry canines. We currently have 4 tail-waggers who most likely would help a burglar carry off our belongings but the bad guy doesn’t know that! One of the first things a thief will do when “casing” your home is to look for any indications of a dog being present. Now I realize if you’re away Cujo is most likely hanging out at a doggie hotel, but just the evidence that a canine resides there can be enough of a deterrent to keep a would-be perpetrator moving on down the road. A doghouse, “beware of dog” sign, a kennel, or dog run, all say “Make my day”.

  10. Don’t be so transparent

    The idea is to look like your home when you’re not. So, boarding up the windows and chaining the doors doesn’t quite accomplish that. But at least be cognizant of what is viewable by someone passing by your home. Where appropriate keep the shades drawn or partially drawn. Don’t leave anything of tempting value laying out in plain view should someone take a peek in a window. This is also where I like to mention the value of security signage. This home is protected by Acme Security, or smile you’re being recorded. Anything that says we practice home security is a good thing.

  11. What’s behind door no.3 Bob?

    If you have a garage door, disconnect it before you leave. Wireless automatic garage door openers can easily be hacked. The equipment to do so can be acquired off the internet and doesn’t require any special skills. Most all automatic garage doors have an on/off switch. If for some reason you can’t find yours then either unplug the main unit or manually release the door from the opener’s track and slide lock the door.

  12. ET do not phone home

    If your car is equipped with a GPS navigation system and you have your home address programed into it… delete it! Should your vehicle be broken into, or if the valet person is an aspiring entrepreneur selling addresses for the cars being parked, you don’t want to advertise your home address. And yes, before you say it, I know my license plate can be used for the same purpose with just a little know how, but again we’re just trying to establish some best practices for keeping our risk profile a bit healthier during the holiday season.

Stay safe and stay secure.

Happy Holidays from all the folks at FireMon!

Tim