Clay Technology and Multimedia, L.L.C.
October is Cybersecurity month. The practice of having a month dedicated to the topic of digital security began in 2004 when George W. Bush, the President of the United States, and Congress declared this month to be dedicated to raise awareness across public and private sectors, about the importance of cybersecurity. Now nearing its 20th year of existence, it has grown into a national and global awareness campaign on ways to reduce corporate, organizational, and personal online risk and exposure.
Since that time, the use of technology has become more ubiquitous. Social media has matured and become mainstream as a means of communication and sharing. Technology has become deeply embedded into the very fabric of family dynamics, home management, and day-to-day lifestyles. It is reshaping how families interact, learn, entertain, and grow together. This year’s theme, “It’s Easy to Stay Safe Online,” is a great way to begin conversations with your family and friends about the responsibility of engaging in safe security practices.
With all the advances in technology, we have witnessed increases in the ability of cyber criminals to steal our identity and our money. This means we must be vigilant and educated as a family about online safety and the responsible use of technology. At the most basic level, you can begin by reviewing these four basic steps. Ask yourself whether you are currently doing them and if not, what steps you will take to implement them for yourself and your family.
Use Strong Passwords and a Password Manager. Strong passwords are crucial to protecting data in this digital age. Using long, random, and unique passwords that include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols will go a long way toward securing your accounts. Strong passwords act as a first line of defense against unauthorized access. The longer your password, the harder it will be for it to be hacked. Weak passwords can be easily cracked using automated software, granting hackers access to your personal and/or financial information.
Refrain from using the same password across multiple accounts because if one account gets compromised, that can create a domino effect and lead to multiple accounts being hacked. If maintaining multiple passwords seems difficult, use a password manager. Password managers are ideal for generating and storing strong passwords. This will help ensure every account has a unique and strong password, making it easier for you to manage them.
Use multifactor authentication (MFA). Multifactor authentication is generally something you know (a password), something you have (Smartphone to receive an SMS one-time PIN) and something you are (facial recognition). The most significant advantage of MFA is the added layer of protection. Even if a malicious actor acquires your password, they will still need the second (or third) factor to gain access. This combination of identity verification protects your accounts and reduces your chances of getting hacked. This feature is especially helpful for social media, email, and finance accounts.
Recognize and report phishing. Phishing is when a bad actor sends you an email that looks like it came from a known source. It tricks you into either clicking on a link, opening an attachment, providing sensitive information, or transferring money. The attacker uses your actions to gain access to information that they use to steal your identity, engage in financial fraud, or access your home/work network. One way to determine if the sending email address is legitimate is to hover over the email address and see if the email really is coming from the source that is indicated in the “from” section. If in doubt, do not act on the email. Also, if it is too good to be true, it is not!
Update your software. This includes your operating system as well as any productivity or other software you have installed on your computer and/or smart device. Software updates often include patches for security vulnerabilities that have been discovered since the last version. Updates often include bug fixes and improved security features that can better fend off various types of attacks.
With these four steps implemented, you and your family will have progressed a long way toward securing your vital information and ensuring that you are as safe as possible when it comes to your digital identity.