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Oct 13, 201612:22 PMOpen Mic

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Cybersecurity: 7 steps to stay safe from threats

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The number of consumers and companies affected by cybercrimes continues to increase every year. It is estimated that cybersecurity incidents increased by 38% from 2014 to 2015, and the average cost per person incurred per stolen record was $154. As a result of 781 publicly acknowledged data breaches, over 169 million personal records were exposed.

The threat to your personal information continues to grow. October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, making it the perfect time to use these tips to better protect yourself. The number one protection against cybercrime is an informed consumer.

Use more than one password

Many people use the same password for multiple accounts, which means that if your credentials are stolen for one account all your accounts are in jeopardy. Do you really want to give criminals access to your bank account because you used the same credentials for your free online music account?

Use stronger passwords

No matter how secure a financial institution or shopping website may be, if your password is easy to guess you are still at risk of fraud. Do not use your name, birthday, or pet’s name, as this information is readily available to many people, especially if you post it on social media. The best passwords are often derived from an entire phrase rather than a single word, and incorporate letters, numbers, and special characters. For example, the song lyric “Don’t worry, be happy” can be transformed into this password: d0ntwry_Bhpy.

Beware of phishing scams

The dangerous thing about phishing scams is they don’t rely on weak website or network security. Instead, they attempt to crack the human firewall: you. Phishing scams attempt to obtain personal information or plant a virus or malware on your device by sending a fake email requesting that information, or instructing the recipient to click a link in order to reset their account.

Never give out your personal information over the internet, phone, or via text message unless you know exactly who you are dealing with. If you receive a suspicious email from a business or charity and you’re not sure if it’s legitimate, close the email, open a new browser, visit their official website and contact them through their customer service. There is often an increase in phishing scam attempts after heavily publicized security breaches (pretending to offer account security) or natural disasters (fake charities), so be especially on guard in those situations.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi to buy

If you frequently shop online, keep in mind that any purchases made via the web require transmitting your credit card and/or bank account information over the internet. Using a public Wi-Fi connection to do so puts that sensitive information at risk. Hackers can tap into unsecured Wi-Fi connections at hotspots like coffee shops and airport terminals to capture that information. If you're using a wireless connection to shop, be sure that it requires a password or WEP key. Websites that have additional security protections have https:// instead of http:// on all pages of the site.


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Oct 13, 2016 03:55 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Regarding public wi-fi, if you enable a vpn, your connection is secured and you can safely conduct transactions. Some free vpn examples are: Opera, Cyber Ghost, or SurfEasy.

Regarding WEP (wireless encryption protocol), this is a legacy encryption protocol that has been cracked. Encryption for wireless should be WPA2.

Oct 13, 2016 04:07 pm
 Posted by  P. Buckley

Great suggestions Rose! Research from the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST -- the folks with the Atomic Clock) suggests that 80% or more of all cyber attacks can be thwarted with good hygiene. That includes all of your suggestions, plus keeping all your software (including firewalls) up-to-date. Many cyber attackers rely on our carelessness for their success.

Thanks for another reminder!

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