With the seemingly revolving door of cyberattacks, data breaches, email scams and other cybercrimes, the internet can seem like a scary place. But by educating yourself about cybersecurity and keeping up to date with the latest security requirements and protection, there’s no need to fear. National Cybersecurity Month has been celebrated every October since 2014. This year’s theme, “Own IT. Secure. IT. Protect IT.,” stresses the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and in the workplace. Here are a few things you need to know about keeping your personal information — and, in turn, your money — safe.
CREATE A STRONG PASSWORD
The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) conducted a survey that analyzed passwords belonging to accounts worldwide that had been breached. The top 5 most common passwords were: “123456,” “123456789,” “qwerty,” “password,” and “111111.” Creating — and re-creating — passwords can feel tedious at times, but having a strong password is fundamental to defending against cybercrime. Coming up with longer passwords is one of the simpler ways to protect yourself online. While no one is immune to the risks that come with cyber activity, heeding this advice can minimize your chances of an incident.
Use a long passphrase. According to the latest guidance from The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. A passphrase can be a news headline or even the title of a book you recently read. Add in some punctuation and capitalization to make it even more secure.
Don’t lose the guessing game. Do not include obvious personal information in your password, like your child’s or pet’s name. This information is often easy to find online, making it easier for cybercriminals to guess and hack your accounts.
Get creative. Substitute letters with numbers and symbols. For example, replace an “i” with an exclamation point or an “s” with a dollar sign. You can also get tricky by using homophones, such as “sea” instead of “see,” or swapping letters with the same sound, like “f” and “ph.”
Keep your passwords to yourself. This seems like common sense, but don’t share your passwords with anyone. Also, be on the lookout for anyone trying to trick you into doing so. Every time you share or reuse a password, your security becomes more vulnerable and susceptible to misuse.
Mix it up. Assigning a unique password to every account helps prevent cybercriminals from hacking into them. With as many accounts as the average person has today, this may seem overwhelming, but less so if you customize one password for different sites (ex: use different numbers, symbols, or sequences).
TREAD CAREFULLY WHEN TRAVELING
Cybersecurity experts largely agree that around 20 percent of travelers are subject to cybercrime when abroad. They all agree that travel puts you at additional information security risk. Here are some ways to connect with confidence when traveling, though they’re applicable whether you’re attending a conference in Beijing or running errands around Bergen County.
Plan ahead. Leave any electronics you don’t need at home. For any devices you do bring, protect them by backing up your electronic files, removing sensitive data, installing strong passwords, and ensuring any antivirus software is updated.
Keep an eye out. Be cautious about where and how you use your devices. Just as you might hold your handbag or wallet a little closer in an unfamiliar or bustling city, be observant of your surroundings and do your best to make sure no one is visibly trying to catch a glimpse of your information. Think about using a privacy screen on your laptop for added protection!
Stay private. To whatever extent possible, try not to connect to public Wi-Fi, or at least stick with as few networks as possible. The more networks you connect to, the more opportunities there are for a cybercriminal to access your data. Above all, do not use public Wi-Fi to make online purchases or access bank accounts!
Lock it up. You’d be surprised how little time it takes for someone to capture your information, so lock devices when they’re not in use, even if you only step away briefly. You can also set your devices to lock automatically after a certain amount of time. It’s worth the few extra seconds it will take you to log back in (with a long, strong password, right?)!
KEEP SOCIAL SAFE
3.48 billion people worldwide now use social media, an increase of 9% from 2018. That’s 45% of the total world population. With every keystroke and mouse click on social media, from signing up for accounts to posting photos, leaving comments, checking into a location and more, you are sharing information about yourself. Keep the following in mind so you can connect with people you know safely and keep social media a fun place to be.
Don’t overshare. Cybercriminals are the beneficiaries of those who share details about their life on social media. It’s an easy way to learn about, and target someone — not to mention their friends and family — both on and offline. Try to avoid posting full names, places you frequent, and your home, school and work locations. It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that this includes Social Security numbers, account numbers, passwords, addresses, and any other highly personal information.
Remember, the internet has no “delete” button. Nothing is “off the record” on social media, so share with care. Even if you delete something as quickly as you posted it, there’s a chance someone saw, or could see it. The internet is a global collection of websites, host servers, storage locations and other web resources. Once posted and shared, your information may be copied to multiple locations, either automatically or by the action of a person.
Secure your settings. Review all available privacy and security settings and set them to your comfort level. One powerful safety precaution you can take it to disable geotagging, which allows other users to see where you are, and just as importantly, where you aren’t.
Don’t talk to strangers. This is an important lesson we learn as children but become less mindful of as we grow. While some social networks might seem safer to connect to because of the limited personal information shared through them, it’s best to keep your connections to people you know and trust.
Be open. If someone you know posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you feel is inappropriate, speak up. Likewise, be understanding if you are the recipient of such a complaint. People have different and evolving preferences for what they want others to see and know about themselves, and it’s important to respect those boundaries.
If you see something, say something. It is your right, and in some cases your responsibility, to report suspicious or harassing activity. Utilize social media platforms’ reporting tools to flag any instance of cybercrime you witness or are a victim of; local and national authorities are ready to assist.
NVE Bank customers can rest assured that they are protected when banking online with us. Taking proper precautions to protect our customers’ financial and personal information is our top priority, which is why NVE’s online security measures include the latest industry-accepted standards and practices. In fact, NVE recently transitioned to a “.bank” URL, a verified banking domain created by security and banking experts that has a higher level of mandated security than any other commercially available domain. In this age of continual cybersecurity threats, NVE’s enhanced security features create a safer space than ever before.
Keeping the digital world secure requires all of us to be proactive and diligent. Learn more about how you can #BeCyberSmart this National Cybersecurity Awareness Month at www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam. New Jersey residents can also use the New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) as a resource for cybersecurity news, guidelines, training, incident reporting and more.