Tiffany Faust | Posted on Oct 27, 2021
The 19th Annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, held annually in October, has a new message this year---See Yourself in Cyber. This year’s theme is focused on taking action by adopting four key security behaviors that can make a big difference.
With the seemingly endless news cycles dedicated to cybersecurity-related scams and breaches, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless to protect ourselves, but in actuality nothing could be further from the truth. We can all play a big role when it comes to thwarting cybercrime. Below are four best practices that everyone can implement today to enhance their own cybersecurity and create a more secure environment for the future.
Watch Out for Phishing and Smishing
Phishing is when criminals use fake emails to lure you into clicking on malicious links or opening malicious attachments. Some also pose as a legitimate company, like your bank or internet service provider, and lure you into calling them at a malicious phone number. Signs can be subtle, but watch for messages that feel urgent or alarming. Criminals want to catch you off guard and get you to act quickly without pausing to think. For example, some recent email messages say you’ve been charged for a purchase you didn’t make and the only way to get your money back is to call the number in the email. It’s important to stop and pause, and see if there’s a better way to validate the email. In this case, instead of calling the number within the email, use a number from your account statement to call your bank or credit card company and see if the transaction has actually posted.
Email isn’t the only method of communication to scrutinize. Today, many criminals are turning to smishing which uses malicious text messages. Clicking a link within one of these messages can infect your mobile device with malware. This may even expose your text messages to the criminal. So, it’s also important to stay alert and look at your text messages carefully.
Update Passwords and Use a Password Manager
Having unique, long and complex passwords for all of your accounts is one of the best ways to boost your cybersecurity. Cracking weak passwords is a common way that cybercriminals gain access to sensitive information. And, if you use the same password for multiple accounts, once cybercriminals have hacked one of your accounts, they can easily do the same across all of your accounts.
With so many passwords to remember, consider using a password manager. A password manager can store all your long, complex passwords in an encrypted database and then you only have to remember one long, complex one to gain access to your password vault. Some password managers help you select complex passwords, while others monitor data breaches and let you know if your current password may have been exposed and should be changed. Consumer Reports® and WIRED have reviews on password managers to help you make an informed decision.
Enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA)---which prompts you to input a secure code texted to a mobile device or displayed within an authenticator app like Google Authenticator--is very effective at making it harder for criminals to access your accounts even if they know your ID and password. MFA is very popular and can be added to your online banking, investment, social media, and email accounts.
By the way, when was the last time you changed the password for your email account? Email accounts are most often hacked because of old, weak passwords and because they don’t have MFA enabled. There are many personal messages in your email, so it’s wise to change that password and add MFA.
Activate Automatic Updates
Any device that connects to the Internet is vulnerable to risks. Making sure the operating system, security software, and web browsers on your devices are always up-to-date with current software updates is essential. New vulnerabilities are found every day so if your device needs an update, don’t delay. When possible, set your software to auto-update. It’s an easy way to keep your devices safer and can offer some peace of mind.
You can learn more by following and using the hashtags #SeeYourselfInCyber and #CybersecurityAwarenessMonth. Additional information about National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, along with resources such as tip sheets, can be found at staysafeonline.org. See Yourself in Cyber by taking action to stay safe online and being part of the solution in thwarting cybercrime!
At ACNB Bank, keeping your financial information secure is one of our most important responsibilities.