Dr. Jane LeClair By Dr. Jane LeClair • October 5, 2018

10 Useful Tips to Stay Cyber Safe During Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Rarely a day goes by that we don’t hear news of an organization that has experienced a cyber breach exposing the sensitive financial or personal information of countless people associated with that organization. While these high-profile breaches make splashy headlines, what is less well known is that in most cases, there is some sort of human interaction that causes the breach. People who have made simple mistakes with regard to cybersecurity cause these breaches.

Cybersecurity professionals work hard at limiting these mistakes and, during the month of October, deemed Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we encourage education and awareness training. Cybersecurity workshops, articles, bulletins, newsletters and emails seek to increase cyber awareness, but we also realize that not everyone has access to such information and training. With that in mind, if you use a computer at home or as part of your business activities (which is safe to assume you do), think seriously about what you do with your computer and practice these 10 cyber safety tips:

1. Create passwords that are at least eight characters long.

Include uppercase and lowercase letters, and a mix of numbers and special characters. For example: b7L39B+?

2. Never use a password as simple as 123456 or ‘password.’

It’s easier to crack than you realize.

3. Change your passwords each month.

It may seem a pain, but it is worth it.

4. Don’t leave your password on a sticky note under your computer or in a nearby drawer.

5. Never use the same password for multiple logins.

If a hacker gets hold of your library password, they can use it to get at your finances.

6. If you do not know who an email is from, do not open it.

If the email is from someone with malicious intent, your computer can be compromised and infected.

7. Never give out personal information over the phone.

Hackers use social engineering techniques and are very skilled at convincing you to give them information you shouldn’t.

8. Refrain from opening links if you don’t need to, even on websites that you use regularly, like Facebook.

It’s tempting to click on a link that looks interesting, but these bogus links are designed to lure you to do so. Links that look inviting could lead you to download malicious code that infects your system.

9. Always use the lock feature on your mobile device.

Many people store personal information on their phones and if you lose it, like millions of people do each year, your sensitive information will wind up in the hands of wrongdoers.

10. Keep the amount of information that you share on social media to a minimum.

Hackers constantly troll social media sites to collect and catalog data on everyone and anyone foolish enough to share personally identifiable information (PII).

Dr. Jane LeClair

Written by Dr. Jane LeClair

Dr. Jane LeClair is the president of the Washington Center for Cybersecurity Research and Development, and consults on cybersecurity programming at Thomas Edison State University. She has previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for the National Cybersecurity Institute. Dr. LeClair holds an MS in Cybersecurity and an EdD in Adult Education.

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