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Shields up! Protect yourself online with these simple steps.

A white outline of a shield with a keyhole surrounded by circles of dotted and dashed lines on top of a purple-hued image of the Earth. The photo illustration includes ones and zeros, and technology icons to the left and right of the shield.Article courtesy of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month!

In 2004, the National Cybersecurity Alliance and U.S. Department of Homeland Security launched Cybersecurity Awareness Month, dedicating October as a time for public and private sectors to work together to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. Learn more about CAM and view past CAM campaigns from the U’s Information Security Office.

Cyberscams are nothing new. Every day, threat actors and other cybercriminals are looking for the easiest target online. Do you think you’re not worth being targeted by online predators? Think again!

Whether it’s your identity, bank account information, or what’s in your email, your information is valuable and cybercriminals will do whatever they can to access it. They’re counting on you thinking you’re not a target. It’s time to get your shields up and take steps to prevent becoming the victim of a cybercrime.

Let’s start with the basics of cyberhygiene — easy and common-sense ways to protect yourself online. Here are four easy things you can do today to keep yourself cybersafe:

  • Use more than one type of authentication on all your accounts. A password isn’t enough to keep you safe online. By implementing a second layer of identification, such as a confirmation text message, a code from an authentication app, face or fingerprint verification, or a security key, you’re giving your bank, email provider, or any other site you’re logging in to an extra layer of security. Multifactor authentication (MFA) can make you up to 99% less likely to get hacked or have your information stolen!
  • Update your software. Threat actors will try to exploit software flaws and vulnerabilities. Update the system software on all your devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Be sure to also check for updates to your applications regularly — especially web browsers — on all your devices. Make things easier by turning on automatic updates for all devices, apps, and operating systems.
  • Think before you click. More than 90% of successful cyberattacks start when you click/select an unfamiliar link in phishing email. A phishing scheme is when a link or webpage looks legitimate, but it’s a trick designed to have you reveal your passwords, credit card numbers, or other sensitive information. In addition, phishing emails may be attempts to get you to run malicious software, also known as malware. If it’s a link you don’t recognize, trust your instincts and think before you click.
  • Use strong passwords. A strong password should be eight or more characters using a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid using the same password on different accounts. Ideally, you should also use a password manager to generate and store unique passwords.

Our world is increasingly digital and interconnected, and we all have a responsibility to protect the networks, systems, and devices we rely on. Become a champion for cybersecurity and share these tips with your friends, family, and neighbors.

For more information, visit the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s Shields Up webpage.

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Last Updated: 9/27/23