This October is the 10th anniversary of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security. All month long, DHS is promoting educational plans for Americans to learn what steps to take in order to ensure safety on the Internet.
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Fifty-four percent of Americans are extremely concerned about loss of personal or financial information due to identity theft, according to the Stop.Think.Connect. campaign, a global cyber security awareness effort. Ninety-six percent of Americans feel a personal responsibility to be safer and more secure online.
The average person uses passwords for everything from email and online banking to social media and mobile apps. Passwords are the most common means of authentication online, and that is why it is critical to use strong passwords and keep them confidential.
A cracked password could allow a cybercriminal access to email, financial information, social security numbers or even medical records. With that in mind, Stop.Think.Connect. has provided a few tips to keep private information safe:
Don’t use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language and use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Don’t use passwords that are based on personal information or that can be easily accessed or guessed including birthdays, names of pets or favorite movies and books that can be found by a quick search on social networking sites.
Use passphrases like “Thispasswdis4myemail!” to help you remember complex passwords.
Write down your passwords and store them in a secure place away from your computer if necessary. For example, passwords locked in your desk drawer are secure, but passwords on a sticky note stuck to the monitor are not.
Use different passwords for different accounts and change them regularly.
Make sure account login pages use encryption including a URL that begins with “https:” instead of “http:”. Look for the padlock icon in the browser bar, too. If the padlock icon appears on the webpage, but not in the browser bar, it might just be a graphic that a cybercriminal embedded to trick you into feeling secure.
“If each of us commits to staying informed of cybersecurity risks and takes a few simple steps,” said a DHS press release, “we can all make a big difference to stay safe online.”
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Source: Santa Clarita News