October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. We live in a world that is more connected than ever before. The internet touches almost all aspects of everyone’s daily life, whether we realize it or not.
Cybercriminals do not discriminate; they target vulnerable computer systems regardless of whether they are part of a large corporation, a small business, or belong to a home user. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and we all play an important role.
Device Protection: If you connect, you must protect.
Problem: Keeping your machine clean. Our devices are great at making our lives easier and fun, but it’s important to be conscious about all the information you are generating and where it’s headed.
Solution: Update the latest security software, web browser and operating systems. Protect your devices with antivirus software that fits your needs and devices.
Passwords: Shake up your password protocol
Problem: Protect your passwords.
Solution: According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidance, you should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites, which can prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. Learn more about protecting your passwords.
Multi-Factor Authentication: Double your login protection.
Problem: No matter how long and strong your password is, a breach is always possible. All it takes is for just one of your accounts to be hacked, and your personal information and other accounts can become accessible to cybercriminals.
Solution: Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all accounts and devices to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device, such as your smartphone, an authenticator app or a secure token—a small physical device that can hook onto your key ring. Learn more about MFA.
Wi-Fi Safety: Stay protected while connected.
Problem: Whenever you’re online, you’re vulnerable. Public Wi-Fi can be convenient, but it is not cyber safe.
Solution: Only visit websites that are fully encrypted. Look for “https” at the beginning of the web address. The “s” means “secure.” If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities that require passwords or credit cards. Learn more here.
App Security: Keep tabs on your apps.
Problem: Have you noticed that apps you recently downloaded are asking for permission to access your device’s microphone, camera, contacts, photos or other features?
Solution: Check your app permissions and limit the permissions you give them. Only download apps from a trusted source. Learn more here.
Oversharing and Geotagging: Never click and tell.
Problem: Everyone seems to be posting their information on social media—from personal addresses to where they like to grab coffee. You may figure, if everyone’s doing it, why can’t I?
Solution: Don’t over-share and don’t post sensitive and private information. Disable geotagging so anyone won’t be able to see where you are at any given time. Learn more here.
Phishing: Play hard to get with strangers.
Problem: Cybercriminals cast wide nets with phishing tactics, hoping to drag in victims. Seemingly real emails from known institutions or personal contacts may ask for financial or personal information.
Solution: If the email appears to be from someone you know, contact them directly. If the email is from a company and it looks ‘phishy,’ reach out to their customer service department. Learn more about phishing.