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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: A Dozen Tips to Stay Cyber Secure

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: A Dozen Tips to Stay Cyber Secure

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: A Dozen Tips to Stay Cyber Secure

There is enough in the world to be worried about, but we’re adding one more thing to the list. Always be aware of your online presence and information! It’s a great idea to regularly monitor your cybersecurity to have a little more ease of mind. October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here to remind us to stay safe and secure from threats like malware and scammers.

Here are a dozen tips to consider when thinking about your own personal information and how to best keep it personal.

  1. Change up your passwords, and ditch the reused ones.

Protect yourself by using unique, strong, and complex passwords. Best practices (and most website requirements now) start with at least twelve characters, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and at least one symbol. Avoid common words, phrases, or information in your passwords. You may also consider pass phrases; they are harder to guess but can be easier to remember for you. It is rumored that a longer and more complex password that includes a minimum of 8 characters, with uppercase, lowercase, special characters, and numbers could take 17+ years for a hacker to crack.

When coming up with new accounts, it is important to not re-use the same username and password. If a data breach occurs where hackers leak user credentials, it can be damaging for people who reuse the same passwords across accounts.

You may even want to consider using a password manager system, just make sure it’s legit and protected itself.

Changing up your accounts and passwords may mean a weekend project for some, but it is absolutely worth the effort, and a great way to start off Cybersecurity Awareness Month.


  1. Set up multi-factor authentication (also known as MFA or 2FA) if available, if you haven’t already.

Though adding an extra step at log-in may seem annoying, it would also be annoying if your accounts got hacked, so better safe than sorry by setting up MFA.

Setting up MFA/2FA adds an extra layer of security to your accounts, in the event, there is ever an attempt by a hacker to gain access. For accounts that support it, multi-factor authentication requires both your password and then an additional piece of information to log in. The second part may be a code generated by an authenticator app, or it may look like a code sent via text or email to log in, etc. This can help protect your account(s) even if your password is compromised.


  1. Set up account alerts.

From account security alerts to setting up banking transaction alerts or fraud alerts on your credit reports, all of these can be great tools to keep you in the loop on your sensitive accounts. Alerts are great ways to detect someone attempting to log into your account(s), use your banking credentials (card numbers or log-in information), or if there are attempts that someone is trying to steal your identity.

Getting these notifications via text or email is an easy way to stay secure and stop potential fraud.


  1. Make sure your device software is up to date.

Updating your device software can be a key component to staying secure. Oftentimes, updates include enhancements or patches to security features on your device. Outdated software makes it easier for criminals to break into your devices. Check to see if you can set up automatic updates, so it’s one less thing for you to think about.


  1. Consider protecting your device(s) with antivirus.

Investing in a legitimate antivirus program can be a great way to help protect your device(s). Antiviruses will alert you if or when you have illegitimate or threatening software or other bugs on a device which allows you to proactively take control of your security, rather than reactively trying to clean up a mess. Find the antivirus that’s best for you by looking at consumer reports or by doing research online.


  1. Back up your files.

No system is completely secure, so it’s important to back up your files regularly to an external hard drive or cloud storage so you’re not at a complete loss if your device is ever attacked.


  1. Check your security settings.

Checking your security settings from your email account(s) to your social media accounts could be an essential way of keeping your information private. It’s important to keep your data properly secured when communicating with external parties. If you need help setting the proper settings, a quick Google search of best practices to secure the platform in question is a great place to start.


  1. Secure your cloud-hosted data.

Did you know that you’re actually able to shield your cloud-hosted data from third parties — including the cloud providers themselves? Do your research on how to ensure total privacy and control of your data in the cloud. As more and more information is moved or stored on cloud servers, it will become more important to ensure your information is protected.


  1. Recognize phishing and know that unusual requests are typically red flags.

Just because an email appears to come from someone or a business you know and trust, be cautious of any message that seems out of the ordinary portraying urgency, or an account that’s been deactivated, etc. Phishing attacks are as common as shopping sales these days, and they will use common industry-specific terms, jargon, and client scenarios to foster a false sense of trust. Hackers can also make these communications look increasingly realistic. 


  1. Report phishing.  

A huge part of cyber security that is often overlooked is to report fraud and scams that are targeting you. Many scams go unreported, simply because consumers feel embarrassed that they’ve just lost their credentials, money, and pride. Don’t consider embarrassment a reason to let it go unreported. The bad guys will never get caught if they stay under the radar.


  1. Slow down.

Slow down before you click a link in a text, open an email attachment, or friend someone online. Thinking things through could be the difference between a close call and a massive data breach, which could also lead to a loss of your hard-earned money. Scammers prey on fear and hackers prey on low-maintained cybersecurity. So, do yourself a favor and slow down, consider complex passwords, conduct regular security maintenance for yourself, and don’t assume just because you read something, that it’s true. 


  1.  Last, but not least - Continue keeping up on your cybersecurity year-round, not just during Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

The key to cybersecurity is to make security a habit, an everyday part of your life. Just like any other habit, it’s takes continuous, small changes to lead to a great impact.


We hope that you’ve found this information useful and that you go on to better secure your accounts and devices to keep your information protected.

Don’t forget, if you ever do become the victim of a scam or fraud, or have a breach in your data, it’s important to contact our highly skilled Fraud Team here at CSE. Any of your data, if compromised, can lead hackers and scammers to your banking credentials. Remember…to them, this is their job and they’re trying to make a payday.


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