October is Cyber Security Awareness Month! Week 1

Week 1 – Be Cyber-Smart

by Terri McDermott

As we grow more dependent on technology, we need to develop better online security defenses. Be Cyber-Smart when sharing personal information online to reduce the risk of becoming a cybercrimes victim. Own your role in cybersecurity by starting with the basics.

Protect your passwords Never reveal your passwords to anyone. Make them long, strong, unique and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible.

  • Use a password manager such as LastPass or RoboForm.
  • Use different passwords for different accounts.
  • Use different passwords for work and home.
  • Don’t let apps and websites remember your passwords.

Think twice before clicking on links or opening attachments.  Even if an email looks like it’s from someone you know, be careful with attachments. Take that extra second to avoid walking into a digitally dangerous situation. Don’t reply to the email because the sender’s identity might have been compromised.

Verify requests for private information. Whenever you are requested to provide private information (yours or anyone else’s), verify the identity of the requester — even if it appears to be somebody you know. Scammers are clever about how they steal information and identities. Even if you think you’re safe, regularly check your financial statements and credit reports.

Protect your stuff!  Keep a close eye on your belongings when you’re in public places. Lock them up or take them with you before you leave, even if you’ll only be away for a second. When you’re at work, secure your area and lock your computer screen before leaving your desk. Take your phone and other portable items with you.

Back up critical files Use an external hard drive and keep it in a physically separate location from the originals. Other options are using a separate drive (e.g., cloud or encrypted USB) to securely store it.

Limit the information you post on social media. Even seemingly random details such as an address or where you get coffee can be all that criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones and your property, both online and in the real world. Do not share personal details, not even vacation plans. Disable location services that allow anyone to know where you are – and where you aren’t – at any given time.

Stay protected while connected. Avoid public wi-fi, particularly for sensitive activities, e.g. banking, that require passwords or credit cards. Only use websites that begin with https:// when online shopping or banking.

If You Connect IT, Protect IT Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game device, or other network devices, the best defense against viruses and malware is to update to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. Periodically restart your devices to ensure that the updates are fully installed. Sign up for automatic updates when possible and protect your devices with anti-virus software.


For more information, go to www.cisa.gov.