Online Safety TIps
October marks the eighth annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a national public awareness campaign that encourages consumers to protect their computers and personal information. The campaign is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security in cooperation with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center.
Every Internet user has a role to play in securing cyberspace and ensuring the safety of themselves and their families online. Use the following tips from NCSA to do your part.
Keep a clean machine.
- Keep security software current. Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware and other online threats.
- Automate software updates. Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that's an available option.
- Protect all devices that connect to the Internet. Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
- Plug and scan. External data storage devices, such as USB flash drives, can be infected by viruses and malware. Use security software to scan them.
Protect your personal information.
- Secure your accounts. Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
- Make passwords long and strong. Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
- Use separate passwords. Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
- Keep it safe. Everyone can forget a password. If you write it down, keep your password list stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer. If you store your password list in an electronic file or database, make sure it is encrypted.
- Own your online presence. When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It's smart to limit who you share information with.
Connect with care.
- When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete or, if appropriate, mark as junk email.
- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots. Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
- When banking and shopping, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for web addresses with "https://" or "shttp://", which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. The "s" stands for secure.
Be web wise.
- Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online. Check trusted websites for the latest information.
- Think before you act. Be wary of communication that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true or asks for personal information.
- Back it up. Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.
Be a good online citizen.
- Do your part. What you do online has the potential to affect everyone -- at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
- Apply the Golden Rule. Post only about others as you would have them post about you.
- Help the authorities fight cyber crime. Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov, the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.onguardonline.gov/file-complaint.aspx (if it's fraud) and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general as appropriate.