National Cyber Security Awareness Month: 10 Tips to Stay Safe and Secure Online
This October marks the 14th Annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), a time to focus on how cybersecurity is our shared responsibility to keep the internet safe for all of us. As collaborative effort between the US government and our industry, it ensures that Americans have the resources they need to stay safe and secure online.
However, it takes more than legislation, support from the White House, and a corporate IT department to safeguard us against cyber threats. The weakest point of any security solution is us: humans. No matter how effective or expensive the security tools protecting our networks are, there is an even more important factor in staying safe – and that’s you.
Here are our Top 10 Security Tips to make certain you are staying #cyberaware and secure:
- Security Updates – Make certain workstations, peripherals (iPods, iPads, Phones, etc) are updated with the latest security patches from the vendor.
- Antivirus / Firewall – Install, update, and maintain antivirus software and firewall protection on desktops, laptops, and even peripherals where available.
- Passwords – First, do not use the same password for everything you work on that is password protected. Second, use stronger passwords that are alphanumeric (e.g. W@t3rm3l0n). Third, do not write down your password on sticky note or otherwise.
- Backups – Make certain your data is backed up, and not just once but regularly! Laptops and phones specifically are commonly not backed up and the availability for cloud backups has become so cheap there is no excuse to not backup your data.
- Access Control – Make certain you know who is using your devices (desktops, laptops, peripherals) as those people can cause your machine or device to become compromised or data taken.
- Wireless Connections – Make certain not to connect to a public wifi network (i.e. Panera Bread, Starbucks) and conduct any financial or other personal business as hackers or other deviants can monitor and get your information. If you are going to do any personal transactions that include financial, SSN, or health make sure to use a private secure connection (i.e. Verizon Mifi, Home wireless LAN, etc.)
- Old Hardware – People throw away hardware all the time and forget to protection your data. Make sure before you dispose of a workstation, peripheral, laptop or otherwise to remove all data from the devices. Any device that stores data, make sure to clear it before you get rid of it!
- Encryption – Encrypt anything that contains sensitive data. Most Operating Systems (OS’s) offer encryption and can be used very easily and will save you the hassle later. Just think: if someone were to take your computer, phone or peripheral – what information do they have available to them?
- Password Protect – Always use at a minimum, password protection for any device (desktop, laptop, peripheral) to gain access to it. This will provide a basic layer of protection to controlling access to your devices.
- Email – Do not open any emails, links, or attachments that are received from unknown sources. This is still the most common way people and companies are compromised using “Phishing” attacks via email.
A recent national survey found that 96% of Americans feel that online safety and security is a personal responsibility. Cyber criminals automate most of their attacks – let’s focus on building up a strong defense! They look for money, data such as usernames, passwords, documents, emails, etc., and even employers, so it’s most beneficial to be best prepared.
Be sure to follow and join the conversation using the official NCSAM hashtag, #CyberAware on social media. In the end, we all need to acknowledge that cybersecurity is our shared responsibility.