October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a global effort to help everyone stay safe and protected when using technology whenever and however you connect.
Now in its 20th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023 is highlighting the growing importance of cybersecurity in our daily lives and encouraging individuals and businesses to take important cybersecurity steps to stay safe online.
Why is cybersecurity important?
From mobile to connected home devices, technology is deeply intertwined with our lives. And while the evolution of technology accelerates, cybercriminals are working just as hard to find ways to compromise technology and disrupt personal and business life.
The 4 most important ways to stay safe online
All month long, we are promoting these key behaviors to encourage everyone to take control of their online lives. There are all kinds of ways to stay safe and secure online but practicing these cybersecurity basics can make a significant difference.
Use Strong Passwords and a Password Manager
- Longer is stronger: Passwords with at least 16 characters are hardest to crack.
- Hard to guess: Use a random string of mixed-case letters, numbers, and symbols. If you need to memorize a password, create a memorable “passphrase” of 5 – 7 unrelated words. Get creative with spelling and/or add numbers or symbols.
- One of a kind: Use a unique password for each account.
- Rather than writing them down or reusing weak passwords, use a password manager.
- MFA provides extra security by providing a secondary method (or more) confirming your identity when logging into accounts.
- MFA usually requires you to enter or approve a code sent to your phone or email, or one generated by an authenticator app such as those from Microsoft and Google.
- Push notifications are also common methods of MFA. This added step prevents unauthorized users from gaining access to your accounts, even if your password has been compromised. Never approve a request that you did not initiate.
- Phishing occurs when criminals try to get you to open harmful links or attachments that could steal personal information, infect devices, or both.
- Phishing messages or “bait” usually come in the form of an email, text, direct message on social media or phone call.
- These messages are often designed to look like they come from a trusted person or organization, to get you to respond. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Report phishing attempts to IT for awareness and analysis.
- One of the easiest ways to protect accounts and information is to keep software and applications updated.
- Updates are periodically released to fix software problems and provide security patches for known vulnerabilities on all platforms.
- This Cybersecurity Awareness Month, don’t hit the “remind me later” button. Take action to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.
Practicing good cyber hygiene is something that anyone can do. One of the best ways to get involved is to join the conversation online. Follow CISA and NCA on your favorite social media platforms to receive the latest online safety news.
For more cybersecurity tips on how to keep your family and business safe, check out all the resources and guides from our partnership with the National Cybersecurity Alliance.