Cybersecurity

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. How aware are you and your company? 

Like it or not, we live in a digital world. Every move we make in our lives is recorded by our cars, smartphones, computers, tablets and whatever other technology we use. While all of this technology makes are lives much easier, it also puts us at high-risk for cyber attacks if we don’t take the necessary precautions.  

Have you ever used Google to research something only to have an ad for that product or topic pop up on social media? Or driven past a store then received a text message with their coupon on your smartphone? This is because our lives have become a digital footprint. This new form of technology or terminology is called the Internet of Things (IoT). It means that billions of sensors and smart devices will connect and share information with each other in order to enhance the collective experience of the end user. Without a doubt the Internet of Things makes our lives easier and has many invaluable benefits; but we can only reap these benefits if our Internet of Things is safer, more secure and trusted. 

Here are some basic tips and advice courtesy of stopthinkconnect.org:

1.) KEEP A CLEAN MACHINE

KEEP SECURITY SOFTWARE CURRENT: Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.

AUTOMATE SOFTWARE UPDATES: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.

PROTECT ALL DEVICES THAT CONNECT TO THE INTERNET: Along with computers, smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

PLUG & SCAN: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

2.) PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

LOCK DOWN YOUR LOGIN: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. Use two-step authentication whenever possible.

MAKE YOUR PASSWORD A SENTENCE: A strong password is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember (for example, “I love country music.”). On many sites, you can even use spaces!

UNIQUE ACCOUNT, UNIQUE PASSWORD: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.

WRITE IT DOWN AND KEEP IT SAFE: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals. At a minimum, separate your work and personal accounts and make sure that your critical accounts have the strongest passwords.

3.) CONNECT WITH CARE

WHEN IN DOUBT THROW IT OUT: Links in emails, social media posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.

GET SAVVY ABOUT WI-FI HOTSPOTS: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.

PROTECT YOUR $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. If a site uses “http://,” do not use it for online shopping because the site is not secure.

4.) BE WEB WISE

STAY CURRENT: Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.

THINK BEFORE YOU ACT: Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true or that ask for personal information.

BACK IT UP: Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

5.) BE A GOOD ONLINE CITIZEN

SAFER FOR ME, MORE SECURE FOR ALL: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.

POST ONLINE ABOUT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM POST ABOUT YOU: The Golden Rule applies online as well.

HELP THE AUTHORITIES FIGHT CYBERCRIME: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center
(www.ic3.gov) and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general as appropriate.

6.) OWN YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE

PERSONAL INFORMATION IS LIKE MONEY. VALUE IT. PROTECT IT: Information about you, such as your purchase history or location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps and websites.

BE AWARE OF WHAT’S BEING SHARED: Set the privacy and security settings on web services and devices to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.

SHARE WITH CARE: Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future. For instance, consider waiting until you arrived home safely to post pictures and videos of your vacation so your home is not a target for a burglar.

JUST REMEMBER….  STOP. THINK. CONNECT.  

For more tips and valuable information on keeping yourself and your company safe in this ever-evolving digital world, please visit these valuable resources:

dhs.gov/ncsam
staysafeonline.org/ncsam
dhs.gov/cybersecurity-publications
stopthinkconnect.org
stopthinkconnect.org/resources
fbi.gov/news/stories/ncsam-2018

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