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Be Cyber Smart – Get Familiar with the Basics

September 15th, 2021

We are more digitally connected than ever, so being “cyber smart” is important. This year, high-profile data breaches and ransomware attacks on the Colonial Pipeline and other critical infrastructure indicate that cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated by criminals and bad actors. Luckily, there are several steps that you can take to mitigate risks of becoming a victim. Here are a few quick tips:

Enable MFA

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds a necessary second check to verify your identity when logging in to your accounts. By requiring multiple methods of authentication, your account is further protected from being compromised, even if a bad actor hijacks your password. In this way, MFAs make it more difficult for password cracking tools to enable attackers to break into your accounts.

Use strong passphrases/password manager

All too often securing strong passphrases and using password managers is overlooked. People spending more time online during the pandemic has contributed to more bad actors prowling for accounts to attack. Using long, complex and unique passwords is a good way to stop your account from being hacked, and an easy way of keeping track and remembering your passwords is by using a password manager.

Perform software updates

When a device prompts you that it’s time to update your software, it may be tempting to simply click postpone, and ignore the message. However, having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system on your devices is among the best defenses against online threats. So, don’t wait - update.

Do your research

Common sense is a crucial part of maintaining good online hygiene, and an intuitive step to stay safe online is to research before downloading anything to your device, such as apps. Before downloading any new app on your device, make sure that it’s safe by checking who created the app, what the user reviews say, and if there are any articles published online about the app’s privacy and security features.

Check your settings

Double check your privacy and security settings, and be aware of who can access your documents. This extends from Google docs to Zoom calls, and beyond. For meetings on Zoom, for example, create passwords so only those invited to the session can attend, and restrict who can share their screen or files with the rest of the attendees.

Being cyber smart and maintaining stellar online hygiene is the best way to protect yourself and others from cyber attacks. No single tip is foolproof, but taken together they can make a positive difference for taking control of your online presence. Following these tips is also easy, and free. By taking preventive measures and making a habit of practicing online safety, you can decrease your odds of being hacked – and help prevent lost time and money.

Do your part - #BeCyberSmart

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