Are you doing enough to ensure you are safe and secure online? October is National Cybersecurity Month, which aims to raise awareness about cyber safety. Global cyber crime costs hundreds of billions of dollars per year. A few small steps, however, can help protect your system and your identity from cyber criminals:
Understand your risk – Regardless of your platform (computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.), make sure your system is up-to-date. Sign up for automatic updates to ensure your device has the latest anti-virus and anti-malware protection. If you are not using your device, keep it locked. Disable your auto-connect features when out in public, and never log on to a Wi-Fi network you don’t know. Finally, be careful which information you share on social media, as thieves can use that information to gain access to your identity.
Secure your system(s) – The first line of defense is a strong password. Make sure to use a long, complex password that you can remember, or utilize a password generator. Use a different password for every account. Never share your passwords with anyone, even people you know. Use multi-factor authentication to double your security. Stay vigilant against outside threats (such as phishing attacks) by never divulging important information. Cybercriminals will often pose as someone you may know (such as your boss or a relative) to gain access to your information. Independently verify the identity of anyone asking for information and never open attachments or click on links unless you trust the source.
Protect your digital profile – Anytime you are online, your identity is at risk. It’s important to protect your digital profile. Recognize the threat of social media bots, which mimic human behavior, and educate yourself about how to spot a bot. Consider purchasing a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which creates a secure connection to another network over the Internet, allowing you to remain anonymous online. If you have a Wi-Fi network at home, make sure to change the factory-set default password and username.
With an increasing number of systems moving online, it’s imperative to be cyber safe.
Learn more at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website.