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Learn Your Cybersecurity Basics

by Madelyn McConnell

Some day-to-day safety measures are no-brainers: always buckle your seatbelt, look both ways before you cross the street, lock the door when you leave the house, et cetera, et cetera. And as we live our lives increasingly online, it’s about time we made our day-to-day online safety a no-brainer, too.

It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month for the National Cybersecurity Alliance, and it’s time to get back to cybersecurity basics. Following a few easy rules will go a long way, keeping you, your data and your network safe.

Cybersecurity Basics

  • For each account, make a long, unique passphrase. Length is better than complexity when it comes to passphrases: they should be at least 12 characters long. And try using a positive phrase or sentence, something that makes you happy to remember. You’ll get a daily boost when you type it in.
  • Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA), like biometrics or one-time codes, to ensure that you are the only person who has access to your account.
  • Stay up to date. Keep the software on all your devices — personal computers, tablets and smartphones — updated to the latest version. This keeps your devices protected against ransomware and malware.

Phishing: Don’t Take the Bait

No, we’re not headed out to the lake: we’re talking phishing with a ‘ph’. Phishing is the cybercriminal tactic of impersonating a reputable source to get you to engage and share information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. Another simple phishing tactic is to send messages to get people to click on unknown links or download attachments. Phishing accounts for 80% of reported security incidents

Remember the rule for recognizing phishing: when in doubt, throw it out! If you receive any kind of online message or advertisement that makes you hesitate, just junk it! And if you get a shady email, always make sure to report it, too.

A little work on your cybersecurity now will prevent major headaches in the future. Spend some time this Cybersecurity Awareness Month learning the basics, securing your devices and updating your passwords. Not only will it keep you safe, but it will keep everyone in your network safe. Let’s #BeCyberSmart this October!

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