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Steps You Can Take to Enhance Cybersecurity

It’s October, which means it is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The theme for this year’s Cybersecurity Month is Do Your Part.

We all play a role in protecting our part of cyberspace. Here are a few proactive steps to help you enhance cybersecurity.

Step 1: Enable or Expand Stronger Authentication

Stronger authentication often refers to multi-factor (or two-factor) authentication. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security when you log into a website, online banking account, mobile phone app, or other internet-based resource.

As the name suggests, MFA adds another factor required to log into the specified resource. MFA combines different factors specific to you to determine the authenticity of your login attempt. Factor types of MFA include the following: Knowledge, Possession, Software Token, Inherence, and Location. Below, we’ve shared some examples of each factor type.

Knowledge: A personal identification number (PIN) sent via text message to an authorized phone number.

Possession: The ATM card you use before entering your PIN or a USB token or key fob.

Software Token: An access code sent to a software or mobile application.

Inherence: Biometric authentication (e.g. fingerprint).

Location: Some resources may have the ability to verify your identity based on your history of logging in from specific locations.

When enabling or expanding stronger authentication, you add an additional layer of security to protect your identity and your personal information. While it does often require an additional step beyond a password, the additional step will make it more difficult for an unauthorized party to access your resource with your credentials.

Step 2: Make Your Passwords Long & Strong

The key aspects of strong passwords are length; a mixture of letters (upper and lowercase), numbers, and symbols; no connections to your publicly identifying information; and no dictionary words. It is also important to avoid reusing, writing, or sharing your passwords. It is a best practice to create a password which is longer than the minimum characters required.

Step 3: Keep Your Devices & Apps Up-To-Date

There are several good reasons for keeping your computer, cell phone, and other internet-connected devices up-to-date. Accepting and installing available updates often improves performance, decreases software issues, enhances security capabilities, and often offers new features. While it is important to accept and install updates when appropriate for your device or software, it is also important to ensure that any updates you accept and install are legitimate from the manufacturer.

Step 4: Think Before You Click

There are over 4.5 billion people on the internet in 2020. Many of these users use social media, email, instant messaging, or text messaging to communicate. While these methods of communication can be fun and efficient, they present a risk which must be addressed daily. Before you click on any link when browsing social media, the internet, or receiving an email, instant or text message, “think before you click.” If you are not expecting the message, do not know the sender of the message, or the message appears suspicious, it is a best practice to contact the supposed sender to confirm the legitimacy of the message.

Step 5: Share With Care

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends that internet users, particularly social media users, “share with care” for the user’s personal information. Even though privacy settings may limit your audience, these settings may not be capable of complete control of your audience and do not provide enough flexibility to control who sees your social media activity. Before you post, click, share, etc., share with care by thinking about whether you would like the information you are sharing to be publicly accessible. If you have shared a comment or photo only to later delete it, the information you originally shared may still be saved or accessible through the social media resource. It is also a best practice to seek approval from others before posting or sharing information or photos of them on social media.