Be cyber safe, not sorry

Make it a resolution to protect your data online with cyber security basics

We live in a time when data is valuable. Names, addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, credit card numbers and general information about an individual are all valuable. It is imperative that we protect this information. I would like to remind you of a few things that can protect you and keep your data from being compromised.

Passwords

A password is the first line of defense. Unfortunately, due to the increase of online transactions, subscriptions and overall use of the internet, we have become numb to the number of passwords that need to be maintained. You know it is important to have a secure password, but is your password really secure? Do you only change one character when the time comes to change it?

Complex passwords of eight or more characters consisting of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and a special character are fairly secure but can be hard to remember. If you find yourself just adding an exclamation point or a consecutive number every time you change it, you may want to consider a pass phrase consisting of more than 15 characters. For instance, the pass phrase “whenthesuncomesoutit’stimetoplay” is a very secure password. According to howsecureismypassword.net, it would take 695 octillion years to crack. That’s a REALLY long time!

Email

Almost everyone uses email for communication, making it an easy target for social engineering. Our daily work lives revolve around email, so it is easy to get duped into clicking a link or attachment if we are not paying attention. There are several themes or consistencies with scams and malicious emails. Fraudulent emails are from unknown senders and are about something that hasn’t been communicated prior to receiving the email. They are often poorly written and tend to have a sense of urgency.

Sometimes the bad guys make it look like it is from someone we know, but if you look closely, the email address is off by only one character. If you are not expecting an email from someone, then it is more than likely fraud. If you are unsure, call the other party and verify the email. I guarantee the amount of time to verify its legitimacy is much less than the time to remediate a compromised account. Don’t forget your IT department. Trust me, they will happily confirm if an email is fraudulent or not.

Internet browsing

Everyone does it. You start to browse the web for something and before you know it, you’re off on some tangent. Be aware of where you are online and what might be malicious. If you have found yourself at a store at 11 p.m., I bet you have a heightened sense of awareness when walking to your car. The same applies to the internet. Be aware of your surroundings. When browsing an unfamiliar website or clicking a link that invokes popups telling you to “click here” because of a virus or because you have won $1 million, IT’S A SCAM!

As we bring in the new year, don’t forget your information and privacy are valuable, and it is worth taking extra time to be cautious. I wish you the best as we begin an exciting new year!

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