October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This observance was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2004 as an effort to educate internet users on the importance of online safety and privacy.
As we have had to adapt to working remotely and moving our daily activities virtually, there are more people online than ever before. Instances of cybercrimes have nearly quadrupled as a result. The FBI recently reported that the number of complaints about cyberattacks is up to as many as 4,000 a day.
This month is a perfect time to discuss how we can better protect sensitive information and minimize potential cyber threats. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Stay Current on Software Updates – Software updates can help defend against known risks. Always check to make sure you are working with the most current software. Set up automatic updates if that’s an option.
- Strengthen Your Passwords – Use unique passwords that are a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. The longer the characters, the better. Don’t reuse your passwords for different accounts. Store your passwords in a safe, secure place away from your computer, or use a password manager service.
- Use Authentication Tools – Protect your online accounts by enabling two-factor authentication tools. The extra step will add a layer of security to verify that only you can access the account.
- Secure Your Network – Check your internet router and make sure you have encryption turned on (WPA2 or WPA3). Encryption scrambles the information being sent over a network so outsiders can’t read it. Avoid connecting to public WiFi, as the network is not secure. Adjust the security settings on devices to limit who can access your machine.
- If Something Looks Suspicious, Don’t Open It – Avoid clicking on suspicious links in emails, social media posts or online postings. Even if you recognize the email sender, if an email message or attachment looks suspicious, delete it.
We hope you will take a more proactive approach towards online safety and encourage others to practice cybersecurity awareness.