Discovery Place Science
October is Cyber Security Awareness Month – a month dedicated to sharing and learning cyber best practices. Maintaining good cyber security habits can often feel overwhelming, but following simple best practices can help reduce the risks and keep you and your family safe.
Review the following best practices to help your family stay secure in today’s always-connected world:
1. Use strong passwords.
Even though using unique, strong passwords is one of the most important best practices, some people still use the most basic of passwords for their email, online shopping and financial accounts. Using different passwords for all of your accounts should be a priority, so that if one password is discovered, then your other accounts won’t be at risk. Even better, consider using a password manager, which assigns a random, strong password to your accounts. Add an extra layer of defense by enabling multifactor authentication, which will which will require more than one form of identity verification force two prompts before a log-in is accepted, whenever possible.
2. Educate your family about cyber risks.
Children often don’t understand the risks associated with the online world. It’s up to caregivers to teach them the dangers of sharing photos and personal information. Information such as vacation photos, daily schedules or other data shared online could be used to commit fraud. It’s a good practice to avoid playing games or taking online surveys that ask for personal information, and it’s best to avoid downloading apps not available in official app stores.
3. Keep your personal info private.
Don’t share valuable personal information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card information and birth dates, in a text or email with people you don’t know well or trust. Ensure any private information stored in online accounts is protected by a strong password, passcode or biometric log-in to protect your accounts online.
4, Protect your home network.
Your router is the gateway to your home devices, from phones to smart home gadgets. Be sure to change the password on your router as soon as you install it. Also, don’t forget to configure security and privacy settings on your devices, and invest in reputable antivirus software for your computers. Download software updates on all the programs you use and enable them to update automatically whenever possible.
5. Be cautious of public Wi-Fi.
Being constantly connected through our mobile devices is the norm, and we’re so used to using our devices everywhere that many people don’t think twice about logging onto the free public Wi-Fi system at the airport, coffee shop or dentist's office. However, some Wi-Fi connections can’t be trusted. Cyber criminals can infiltrate these systems and collect data that's sent while connected to them. It’s best to avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi connections as much as possible, use a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot (Mi-Fi) or the data capabilities of your cell plan. If you must use public Wi-Fi, never transmit or access any sensitive data. Install system updates and use an anti-virus program. Prior to connecting to a Wi-Fi network, check the network’s name for misspelled words or other suspicious characteristics that could indicate the network may be fraudulent.