October is Cybersecurity Month: 5 Tips to Beef Up Security

ESO Staff

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). This is the 15th year of the National effort spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

So, what is cybersecurity? Basically, it’s ensuring the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of information. More specifically, it’s the practice of defending Internet-connected systems, including hardware, software, and data, from malicious attacks.

Here are 5 tips to help beef up the security of your agency or department:

  • Be aware: More than 90 percent of cyberattacks and resulting data breaches begin with the fraudulent practice of sending emails disguised as a known source to get the recipient to reveal confidential information – better known as spear phishing. Know what you are clicking and opening to ensure you don’t accidentally compromise your computer or your entire network.
  • Lock your screen: If you walk away from your desk, even for a brief moment, do you lock your computer? You may not think it’s a big deal, but leaving your computer unlocked is a lot like leaving your car running with the doors unlocked. Anyone could sit at your computer and gain access to all the information that is on it, including your mail accounts, confidential and or sensitive company data, social media accounts, etc. And if you allow your browser to save your passwords, an unauthorized user could gain access to accounts you thought were secure, so leaving your computer unlocked could pose a huge security risk.
  • Password management: Don’t share your password with others, don’t write it down, and don’t put it on a post-it note on your monitor. Don’t use your initials or use the same password for multiple sites. If your password is compromised, it leaves you vulnerable and more susceptible across various platforms. Don’t use common words for your password unless you are using a passphrase – meaning multiple words that make up a single password. As a general statement, the longer passwords are the better they’ll protect you, even if they’re not complex. Lastly, if you suspect your password has been compromised, change it! It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
  • Browsing best practices: Only do your shopping or banking on a device that belongs to you and a network that you trust. Browsing on public networks using sensitive data can you leave you exposed and potentially compromised.
  • Keep your antivirus up to date: Make sure you have the latest antivirus installed and that it’s up to date. Antivirus companies constantly research the latest threats and risks, and update their antivirus signatures to help protect your machine.

Be safe out there!

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