For several years October has been deemed as cybersecurity awareness month. This has come about due to the realization by those with a vested interest in cybersecurity that ordinary computer users have been lax in their cyber hygiene and that special attention needed to be paid to the issue. During October we encourage computer users to actively think about what they do with their computers and become aware of the need for better cyber actions.
Almost every week there comes news of a cyber attack that exposes personal information of countless Americans to those with malicious intent. While those attacks make national headlines what is less known is that in over 95% of all breaches there is some sort of human interaction that causes the breach. The majority of those breaches are caused by people who are either unaware of cyber hygiene, or simply made a mistake.
During cybersecurity month we find ways to limit these attacks and we encourage education and training, but also recognize that some people do not have access to such information. To assist them we offer these simple practices that everyone should heed.
1. Install antivirus protection on your network. Install and be sure to keep it updated and patched to protect against known vulnerabilities.
2. Do not open emails from someone you don’t know. If the email is from a bad actor, your network can get infected.
3. Use passwords and make them at least 8 characters long including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. For example: d5Mb?2B+
4. Change your passwords frequently. That can seem troubling, but it is worthwhile.
5. Do not use the same password everywhere you go. If someone gets your library password, they can get at your finances.
6. Do not click on links you don’t need to. Be careful of where you surf….links that look inviting could lead directly to you downloading malicious code.
7. Do not give out information. If you get an email or phone call from someone at the office asking you to provide them with passwords or other personal information, do not give it.
8. Do not put your passwords on a stickie on your computer or in your desk drawer. Doing so gives easy access to whomever comes across it while you are not there.
9. Use double authentication wherever possible. Make it twice as hard for hackers.
10. Stay up to date on cybersecurity issues. The more you read and increase your awareness, the safer you and your network will remain.
There is no perfect cyber defense, and hackers are increasingly sophisticated in their attacks. There are numerous methods to bolster the defense of a digital system, but if you try to maintain at least these minimum practices you will place barriers in the way of hackers and encourage them to seek easier targets.
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