We are all vulnerable to cyber attacks.
October is being called National Cyber Security Awareness Month, but every day needs to be cyber security awareness day.
We join Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr in supporting this month-long campaign launched in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.
“As current headlines and recent history show, cybercrime and security breaches are real and evolving threats that we are all facing,” Carr said. “National Cyber Security Awareness Month puts a spotlight on preventative measures that consumers can take to avoid becoming the victim of a scam or hack.”
The state provided cyber security tips for consumers:
— Install Reputable Security Software on Your Computer. It is recommended that your computer have anti-virus and anti-spyware software, a pop-up blocker and that the firewall is enabled. For lists of security tools from legitimate security vendors, visit https://staysafeonline.org/.
— Update System and Software Frequently. Computer and software companies frequently update their programs to include protection against new security threats. Simply updating your operating system and software whenever new versions become available gives you an added measure of security.
— Create Strong Passwords. The longer the password, the tougher it is to crack. Mix letters, numbers and special characters. Don’t use your name, birth date or pet’s name in your password. Use a different password for each of your accounts so that if one account is hacked, the perpetrator cannot take over all your accounts.
— Be Wise with Wi-Fi Hotspots. Open public Wi-Fi is often unsecured, so your information and device are more accessible to hackers. Limit the types of business you conduct in this environment, being certain to avoid those that involve your personal or financial information, such as banking, credit card transactions or doing your taxes.
— Know Who You’re Dealing With. Don’t download programs or share files with people or businesses you don’t know and trust. If you receive an email from a sender you don’t recognize, be wary of opening any attachments or clicking on links, as these might download a virus or malware onto your device. If an email looks suspicious, it is best to delete it.
— Beware of phishing emails. Cybercriminals may try to steal your money or identity by posing as a legitimate business or government agency and asking you to send money or provide personal or financial information. If you are unsure of whether an email is legitimate, do not reply to it; instead, contact the business or institution directly by looking up the actual web address or phone number.
— When shopping online, make sure the company is reputable and its website begins with “https://”, which indicates the site utilizes extra security measures. You can check the reputation of a business with the Better Business Bureau by going to www.bbb.org.
— Backup Important Data. No system is completely secure. Copy important files onto a removable disc or an external hard drive, and store it in a safe place. If your computer is compromised, you’ll still have access to your files.
When it comes to all electronic communications and transactions, you cannot be too careful.