The weather turns colder and the days grow shorter during this spooky time of year, but it’s not the ghosts and ghouls you should fear. The real danger arises from the hackers, crackers, and cyber punks who want to get past your firewall and gain access to your personal information. That’s why the Nebraska Bankers Association (NBA) is promoting National Cybersecurity Awareness Month this October.
Cyber attacks are becoming more complex and common. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, in 2016, cyber victims lost $1.3 billion from scams initiated through the web.
The world wide web doesn’t have to be scary. Just follow these tips to help keep your information safe online:
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up-to-date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
- Create complic@t3d passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Follow these guidelines when creating new passwords for better protection.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with. Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at email@example.com – as well as to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
- Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, your mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
- Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public wi-fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
- Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
More information on Cybersecurity Awareness Month and additional tips on monitoring your personal information on the web are available from Stay Safe Online at https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/. Limit your fears to ghosts this Halloween and stay protected on the web.
Email NBA President & CEO Richard J. Baier at firstname.lastname@example.org.