October Is National Cyber Security Awareness Month
October 16, 2012
Did you know that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month? The observance was initiated by the Department of Homeland Security in 2004, and seeks to protect citizens by informing their online experience. All sorts of dangers lurk on the Internet, from viruses to spyware to fraudulent sites that pose as legitimate ones. A little scrutiny and common sense can go a long way toward protecting the privacy of the information you transmit when you're using the Internet. The following are some useful guidelines to steer you in the right direction.
- Use social networks like Facebook with caution, and don't assume that your account is private. Be sure to adjust your privacy settings yourself. Add only "friends" you know and trust. If you're considering tagging someone in a status update or group picture, check with them to see if it's alright, and ask that they honor your privacy by asking for permission to post information about you. Be very wary about what information you reveal online, and be sure you understand what information the apps you download have access to before you add them to your account. If you're not sure whether the world can see something you post or not, err on the side of caution. Assume that they can.
- Incorporate lower case and upper case letters into the passwords you choose. It wouldn't hurt to include a symbol as well. You need a good password you can remember and that will be virtually impossible to guess? Think of a phrase that means something to you. Use the first letter of each word in the phrase to create your password. Consider using the number 2 for "to" or the @ symbol for "at" if you want to add some variety to the string of characters you select for your password. Don't use personally identifying information in your user name or password. It's also a good idea to update your password regularly.
- Think of your smart phone as a computer, because it IS one. Protect it with an antivirus app. Consider getting a free encryption app, too. Encryption will encode everything you type, making it difficult for your private data to be intercepted and understood.
- Before you enter private information on a website, look for an "s" after the "http" in the address bar. This is an indication that the site is secured and makes use of encryption technology.
- Be careful about what you reveal about yourself online. The best hackers get you to tell them what they need to know. This is one of those places where a healthy dose of distrust is essential.
- Don't give anyone your login information.
- If anyone else will be using your computer, don't save your login information.
- Be wary about signing up to be on email lists. Some companies make a profit by selling your information. This can jeopardize your privacy.
- Be on the lookout for sites that look legitimate but aren't.
As an open forum, the Internet is an unparalleled source of information. It has torn down many barriers and brought the world together, but it is not without its dangers. It's always a good idea to take measures to protect your privacy and the privacy of your loved ones.
Happy and Safe Browsing,
North Independence Branch