Since 2004, the President of the United States and Congress have declared October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month. According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), since 2015, 169 million personal records have been exposed. In small businesses, 66% say they rely on the internet but only 23% have an internet security policy.  CISA suggests simple steps that you can take to stay safe online not only during October, but throughout the year.

  1. Use strong passwords and a password manager. Strong passwords are critical to protecting data. Make them random, long, unique and use all four character types (uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols). Password managers are there to help create those unique passwords and make storing passwords and user IDs easy.
  2. Turn on multifactor authentication (MFA). You need more than a password to protect your online accounts and enabling MFA makes you significantly less likely to get hacked. Enable multifactor authentication on all your online accounts that offer it, especially email, social media, and financial accounts and use authentication apps or hardware tokens for added security.
  3. Recognize & report phishing. Phishing emails, texts, and calls are the number one-way data gets compromised. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, texts or calls asking for personal information. Avoid sharing sensitive information or credentials over the phone or email unless necessary and don’t click on links or open attachments sent from unknown sources. Verify the authenticity of requests by contacting the individual or organization through a trusted channel. Report phishing attempts to the appropriate authorities or information technology department.
  4. Update software. Ensuring your software is up to date is the best way to make sure you have the latest security patches and updates on your devices. Regularly check manually for updates if automatic updates are not available and keep operating systems, antivirus software, web browsers, and applications up to date.

The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency breaks down the tips to keep you safe online and offers a fact sheet to save or print. By following these tips, you have a better chance of keeping your information secure online.