Category Archives: Online Safety Tips

October: Cyber Security Awareness Month

We lead Internet-connected, digital lives—we work, learn and play online.  Whether we are shopping online, social networking, checking our bank accounts, or downloading a new app on our phone, it is critical that we practice good cyber security in today’s interconnected world.  For the thirteenth year, October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Cyber security is always a popular discussion topic in the media. Just last month, Yahoo announced that 500 million user’s passwords were stolen. According to, from information gathered from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, it takes consumers an average of six months and 200 hours to recover from identity theft.  The National Cyber Security Alliance is partnering with leading technology firms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Microsoft to make it easier for consumers to make their online accounts more secure.  They are also working with financial services companies such as Wells Fargo, MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal to make transactions more secure.

As our world becomes more and more technology driven, it is important that we, as good digital citizens, learn to be safe and secure in our digital environment.  This includes ensuring our home networks are secure, our online accounts are secure, not responding to identity theft scams, managing the security of our mobile devices, and using the Internet safely and responsibly.

Below is a list of things you can do to make your accounts more secure.

  1. Create a strong password – To create a strong password, use a combination of capital letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Do not use words that are in the dictionary. Security experts also suggest using short sentences or phrases instead of just a single word.
  2. Never use familiar words for your passwords. This includes such words as birthdays, names of close family members, and address information.
  3. Have individual passwords for every account. To make it easier to remember, many people will use the same password for multiple accounts.  This is a dangerous practice because if your security is breached, the hacker will be able to access all of your accounts.
  4. Use two factor authentication. Add an extra level of security such as a fingerprint or a single use code delivered in a text message.
  5. Reset your password every 90 days.
  6. Enable Login Alerts. Many apps and websites have login alerts that will send you an email or text message if you login was used on an unrecognized device or browser.
  7. Think before you open suspicious emails, websites, or apps. According to more than 50% of phishing emails in 2011 were targeted at online bank users, and one out of every 300 emails sent were malicious.

How secure is your online presence?  Click here to take an online identity risk survey.