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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Be Cyber Smart

2 min read

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Five things you can start today

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and we want to share some easy ways this month for you to be cyber smart and stay safe online. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has shared a few sobering facts about our personal security online.

  • 600,000 accounts are hacked every single day.
  • 1 in 3 homes with computers is infected with malware software.
  • 47% of American adults have had their personal information exposed by cybercriminals.

It’s hard to imagine life without our devices. As we grow more dependent on technology, we also need to develop safer online practices and security defenses. These five tips will help you recognize cyber threats and become less vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Five tips for being cyber smart

  1. Create Password Complexity. There are a few key things for securing your personal passwords. First, you should have unique passwords for each account instead of using the same password for multiple sites. In the event of a breach, this will keep a cybercriminal from having access to more than one account. When you are creating your passwords, think more of passphrases that are longer (15-64 characters), provide some complexity, but are still easy for you to remember. And of course, never share passwords with others. For additional help, download our guide to strong passwords.

  2. Keep Devices and Apps Updated. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, or gaming device, the best defense is to stay on top of things by updating to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. Enable automatic updates to your devices and apps to defend against the latest risks. And, if you’re putting something into your device, such as a USB for an external hard drive, make sure your device’s security software scans for viruses and malware. Finally, protect your devices with antivirus software that fits your needs and your devices.

  3. Maintain Privacy. Don’t overshare and reveal personal information such as your date of birth, address, school location, or social security number. Think twice before playing seemingly harmless social media games that require your birth month or other personal information. Set your social media privacy settings to only include people you actually know. And while it’s tempting to tag yourself at fun locations, it’s better to disable geotagging so everyone can’t see where you are – and where you aren’t – at any given time.

  4. Think Twice Before Clicking. If you’re unsure who an email is from, even if the details seem legitimate, do not respond. And do not click on any links or attachments found in the email. Even if an email looks like it’s from someone you know, you still want to be cautious with links and attachments. Reach out to the person directly (outside of that email chain) to check. If a cybercriminal has gathered any key personal details from your life like a job title, full name, or address, they can be attempting a direct phishing attack.

  5. Connect Securely. The first key to getting online safely is to check for the lock icon in your browser bar signifying a secure connection. If you are out and about using public Wi-Fi, avoid free internet access with no encryption. If you need to access through an unsecured public access point, don’t participate in any sensitive activities that require you to input passwords or provide credit card information. When in doubt, your personal hotspot is a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi.

Be vigilant

While we are focusing on your personal cybersecurity because it’s October and Cybersecurity Awareness Month, there really is no downtime for protecting yourself online. And the threat landscape is always changing. Keep yourself informed of the latest cybersecurity trends to keep you, your home, and your workplace safe.

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