An event that began as a broad effort to help Americans stay safer and more secure online, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is commemorating its 15th year as an annual initiative to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.
Cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of governments, companies, groups or individuals; everyone shares the responsibility, from the average smartphone user to a corporate CEO. Accordingly, this year’s cybersecurity awareness theme is “Our Shared Responsibility,” which underpins the importance of everyone doing their part to make the internet safer and more secure for all users.
CIRI’s Information Technology (IT) department offers the following tips to keep your devices and personal information safe:
- Update your machine regularly. Regularly scan your personal and office devices for viruses and spyware. Make sure you have the latest version of all installed software.
- Maintain your privacy. Lock down your social media accounts by making them private. These sites can be utilized to obtain personal information about you. Only share data with friends or connections, and don’t accept invites from people you do not know.
- Protect your passwords. Create very strong and complex passwords (eight or more characters) and use a different password for every website.
- Use secure Wi-Fi. A wireless network connection, such as those found in airports, coffee shops and hotels, isn’t inherently dangerous. It becomes so if it’s unsecured – allowing the movement of data across its airwaves without any form of encryption or security protection. To protect your information when using wireless hotspots, send information only to sites that are fully encrypted, and avoid using mobile apps that require personal or financial information.
- Avoid phishing scams. Cyber criminals will often trick you into divulging personal information. Don’t fall for it! Keep your personal information as private as possible. Be suspicious of any email message or phone call asking for personal or financial information. If you receive such a message, contact the company to confirm whether the communication is legitimate. NEVER reply to or click the links in a suspicious email message.
- Report cybersecurity incidents. Report computer or network vulnerabilities to your employer or the National Cybersecurity Communications and Integration Center at www.us-cert.gov/report.