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Get the Most out of Cybersecurity Awareness Month

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Woman is sitting at a table and using a laptop computer. In the foreground is a network of lock symbols.In 2004, the President of the United States and Congress declared October to be Cybersecurity Awareness Month to help individuals protect themselves online since cyberattacks have become more frequent. During October, take some time to evaluate how well your data is protected from cybercrime. Here are some starting points to help you keep your business safe.

How strong are your passwords?

Passwords provide the first line of defense against unauthorized access to your computer and the information stored on it. The more complex a password, the better protected your information is from hackers and malicious software.

Your password is considered strong if it meets the following criteria:

  • It is not the name of a pet, family member, something common or easily guessed. Social media makes it easy for a cybercriminal to find information about your family and pets, including their names and birth dates, that you may be using in your passwords.
  • You chose to use a passphrase instead of a password. A passphrase is a mix of about four random words creating a combination of at least 15 characters. The passphrase should be unique to you, and although it may be easy for you to remember, it should be difficult for someone else to guess. Including a combination of letters, numbers and characters makes your passwords or phrase even harder to crack. For example, your passphrase could be Ducks#OnTheLake!2002>.
  • It is uniquely connected to the device or account you use. It’s tempting to use the same password for multiple accounts, but using unique passwords will make it more difficult to guess your password and access all your accounts at once, wreaking havoc in your life and/or business.
  • You avoid sharing your password with anyone. You should never share your password, even with friends or people you think you can trust.
  • You change your passwords regularly. Keeping the same one for too long increases the chance that it will be revealed in a data breach, which you may not be notified about until months or years afterward when the damage has been done. Changing it frequently may protect you from the worst consequences of a data breach.

Wondering how you are going to keep track of these long, complicated, and ever-changing passwords? Using secure password management software can help you manage your passwords. These apps for mobile phones, tablets, and computers store your passwords and fills them in on each site so you don’t have to remember them. You can access the password manager with just a single master password so it’s easy for you, but make that password a tough one and implement multi-factor authentication to keep cyberthieves out.

Do you use multi-factor authentication?

Multi-factor authentication (also called two-factor or dual authentication) This is a security measure that requires anyone logging into an account to prove their identity through a two-step process which typically involves (1) entering your password, then (2) entering a secure code generated by an authenticator app or via an SMS text sent to you. Using multi-factor authentication (MFA) makes it much more difficult for criminals to access your account. Be sure to activate it when available.

Do you know the signs of email phishing?

If you don’t recognize an email sender’s name, email address, or phone number—or you notice a lot of spelling and grammar errors—you may have received a phishing email attempting to fool you into sharing your private information or to click on a link that downloads malware or opens a fraudulent website. If the sender asks you to reveal personal or confidential information or asks you to click on a provided link, don’t do it.

With each email you receive, always hesitate and evaluate any link in the body that you intend to click. When in doubt, go directly to the company’s known website address instead of clicking on the provided link, or call the company to see whether the email is legitimate. That extra couple of minutes may save you from months or years of misery after an identity theft or corporate fraud incident.

How do you protect your digital devices?

Computers, tablets, and phones can leave us exposed to cyberattacks designed to steal our confidential business and personal information. Keep them safe from threats by regularly updating your software and installing anti-malware protection. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and keeping your devices protected can help you protect against these evolving threats. Enabling automatic updates means you don’t have to remember to and makes sure your software is always a few steps ahead of the criminals.

Do you destroy your retired hard drives and electronics?

Protecting your computers, laptops, phones and other digital devices while they are in service is very important, but cyberthieves also target discarded drives and electronic devices because they often contain a great deal of valuable information. This is because many people simply delete the files on these drives thinking that erases the information. It does not. In fact, the information is still there and intact; the only thing that is removed by deleting is the directory used by the computer to find your files. Cyberthieves are well aware of this fact, so discarded electronics are a goldmine for them.

The best way to protect your information is to use have your drives and electronic devices shredded by a reputable e-destruction company.

Wiggins Shredding offers e-Destruction for business and residential hard drives and other digital media devices, with convenient drop-off shredding locations to make protecting your information easy. For more information, call our friendly shredding and destruction experts at 610-692-TEAR(8327) or complete the form on this page.

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