October is National CyberSecurity Awareness Month which is an annual campaign to raise awareness about cybersecurity. We live in a world that is more connected than ever before. Look at the number of devices that we have connected to the Internet in our offices and homes. During the month of October, there will be a lot of information designed to engage and educate you. I wanted to start the month off talking about Tech savvy versus cybersecurity savvy. These two things are very different . We all know people can pick up any device, and start using it. Just because you have a device up and running does not mean that you are doing it securely. If you are a parent, you also need to think about the security of devices for your children. If you are part of the sandwich generation, you may also need to think about cybersecurity for your parents. All you have to do is read the headlines to know that there are a lot of bad things that happen on the Internet.
What would be on my top three list of things that we can do to increase our cybersecurity awareness/IQ? First, change the default password. If you have a device you are going to place on the Internet, change the password. This includes your Internet router, gaming devices, TVs, and home thermostats, just to name a few.
Second, when selecting the password, use a different password for each device and account. Recent headlines have included a recent breach of thousands of peoples’ email accounts and passwords. If you used your email password anywhere else, you also need to change this password. CRITICAL, never use your bank passwords, anywhere else. If you have multiple bank accounts, do not use the same passwords. When selecting a password, get creative, think vanity license plate. If you have a cute kid, think 1QTk1d!!. If football is your sport, think 1T0uchdown0R2 (with some of the o being replaced with zero).
My final thought for this week is to be aware of what you post online . If you have your birthday on your social media accounts, it is easy for people to get your birthdate. When you post your kids, parents or siblings birthdates, you are placing their privacy at risk. Going to a friend’s page and wishing them a happy birthday is nice but not private. You may have given others their birthdate. When you post on social media, it is like publishing a headline. On your child’s 18th birthday, a bad person, could get the social media post with their birthdate, and maybe looking through your timeline, find the location of their birth, their home address? Wishing your parent Happy Anniversary or Happy Birthday on your page could provide someone with your maiden name. If you also posted likes of an author’s books, have you given someone a potential answer to a security question of who your favorite author is? If you post Throwback Thursday pictures, could you be giving someone the name of your high school, your prom date? Again, these are answers to some security questions.
On social media when you check in at locations, you are telling would-be thieves that you are not home. In the physical world when you go on vacation, you stop your mail. In social media, posting you are leaving on vacation, where you are staying, and when you are coming home is the exact opposite.
There are a lot more examples of what I have seen posted on the Internet. I would like people who read this post to comment with others on what they have seen. Think of it as, a public service to people that are trusting, on what bad people can do with information.
Guardians of the Connected World