Held every October, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) is a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all internet users have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online. This year’s collective theme is around Staying Secure Online emphasizing cyber hygiene, personal accountability and stressing the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and in the workplace.
This post aims to highlight some important topics under this theme to inform the users about good cybersecurity habits that should be a part of everyone’s daily routine.
Having healthy cyber safety practices can provide users with more confidence using their devices, whether it’s a computer, a smartphone, a wearable device, or any other gadget that’s connected to the internet. The key take-home message conveys that cyber hygiene is a habit you learn from a young age and remains a daily routine for life. For this theme, here are some tips you should be aware of when it comes to new technology.
- Shake up your passwords. It is well known in the security world that you should be using long passwords or passphrases for your various accounts. Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites, which can prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. Use password managers, which is a software that keeps all of your passwords safe in a vault – similar to how a bank keeps all of your money in one place, to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts.
- Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in. 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.
- Never click and tell. Limit what information you post on social media—from personal addresses to where you like to grab a coffee. What many people don’t realize is that these seemingly random details are all that criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and your physical belongings—online and in the real world. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords private, as well as specific information about yourself, such as your full name, address, birthday, and even vacation plans. Disable location services that allow anyone to see where you are— and where you aren’t —at any given time.
By now we all recognize the importance of keeping you and your new tech gadgets and devices secure. Technology is developing fast and it is important to question the security and privacy settings for your new purchases. For this theme, here are some tips you should be aware of when it comes to new technology.
- Secure your Wi-Fi network. Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices. Secure your Wi-Fi network and your digital devices by changing the factory-set default password and username.
- If you connect, you must protect. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game device, or other network devices, the best defense is to stay on top of things by updating to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. If you have the option to enable automatic updates to defend against the latest risks, turn it on. And, if you’re putting something into your device, such as a USB for an external hard drive, make sure your device’s security software scans for viruses and malware. Finally, protect your devices with antivirus software and be sure to periodically back up any data that cannot be recreated such as photos or personal documents.
- Keep tabs on your apps. Most connected appliances, toys, and devices are supported by a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved—gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and use the “rule of least privilege” to delete what you don’t need or no longer use. Learn to just say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.
I can quite possibly go on and on about the wide variety of topics cybersecurity awareness covers but we ain’t got time for that (lol) so join us on Twitter where we dive into more tips and topics and join the discussion. Share with friends and family because knowledge is power.