October is National Cybersecurity Month. Cybersecurity is a practice that allows you to protect networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or criminal use, as well as ensure that your private information remains confidential, retains integrity, and isn’t stolen or copied. Here are some tips to keep you safe online.
1. Multi-factor authentication (sometimes called 2FA for two-factor authentication) is when you set up multiple ways to verify your identity when logging into sites like your email account. First, you have to type in your password; then, you have to verify your identity on another device, such as a smartphone, to confirm that it’s you trying to log in. In addition to this extra layer of protection, you will get notifications whenever someone tries to log into your accounts. If you get a notification of someone trying to log into your accounts and you didn’t authorize this activity, report it right away.
2. Sometimes, the simplest thing can be the difference between good cybersecurity and a terrible mistake. A strong password is a good example. Creating a strong password is one of the best things you can do to protect your online accounts. Be aware of password-stealing practices like credential stuffing or password spraying. Credential stuffing is when bots test every username and password in their system to see if anything works. Password spraying is when they use common or known passwords that have appeared in a data breach to see if any of those passwords work with a particular email address. Because of this, you should always use unique passwords for every site, and your passwords should have a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. They should also be at least 12 characters long.
3. Delaying a software update on your computer or phone seems innocuous, but keeping up with the latest version is a cybersecurity best practice. You may always click “Update Later” on those annoying software update notifications, but software and app updates contain important security fixes that can help keep you safe. These software updates protect your laptop, smartphone, and any other device you might use to connect to the internet. According to CISA, software updates are the most effective measure you can take to protect your digital devices because they are the best defense against attackers exploiting patched vulnerabilities. They also share a few other tips when it comes to software updates:
- To minimize your risk, consider setting up automatic software updates.
- Only download software updates from trusted vendor websites.
- Don’t trust a link in an email message, especially if you don’t know the sender.
- Avoid software updates while using untrusted or unsecured networks (such as the Wi-Fi at the library or a coffee shop).
Make cybersecurity a priority every day.