How To Stay Safe From Cyberattacks

April 28, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security works constantly to battle cyber threats. The agency's National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center is open every day of the week and all year. It combines intelligence from law enforcement and the private sector as well as from federal, state and local government agencies. 

Online Safety Strategies
NCCIC offers a variety of suggestions for preventative strategies to help its partners. These are some valuable tips for staying safer online:

  • Do not click on a link in an email whether it is from a legitimate sender or not.
  • Scan attachments instead of opening them immediately or automatically.
  • Avoid giving out personal information online or over the phone to unverified entities.
  • Use strong passwords, and use different passwords for each online account.
  • Keep anti-virus programs, browsers and other programs updated.
  • Contact a company directly to verify the authenticity of an unsolicited offer.
  • Make sure that any visited site URLs are legitimate and secure.
  • Do not answer personal questions that are sent to a mobile phone or tablet via SMS.

Setting Stronger Passwords
One of the easiest ways for thieves to access data is by using a hacking program to guess easy passwords. Several sophisticated programs can quickly identify word and number combinations. When choosing a password, it is better to mix capitalized and lowercase letters among numbers. Do not choose a known word followed by a number or two. Whenever possible, use special characters as well. For example, the password "lightbulb88" is weak. "88Lightbulb88*" is still somewhat weak even though it contains a special character and more numbers. An ideal password is longer and may be something such as "L90&rwP7e88Dk*" or a similar combination of numbers, letters and special symbols. Such passwords are harder to crack. 

Most people choose simpler passwords because they are easy to remember and do not need to be written down. However, they do not realize the extensive negative impact of a thief accessing just one account. Do not store passwords on a computer. If the computer is a trusted private device, write the passwords in a journal or notebook on the desk. People who share a computer can write their passwords in a personal locked journal or store them somewhere safe. Avoid taking photos of passwords or using auto-save options on a browser. Learn more about how to stay safe online by speaking with an agent.

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