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October marks the 18th year anniversary of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which continues to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the National Cyber Security Alliance co-lead the promotion and engagement throughout the month. The theme for 2021 is “Do Your Part, #BeCyberSmart,” which emphasizes the importance of individuals doing their part to enhance cybersecurity at home and in the workplace.
This month is a great reminder for all of us to revisit things in our technological lives that we put off because we are too busy or require changes in habits and behaviors that seemingly are too inconvenient.
Technology drives a large portion of our lives today and, like any vehicle, we need to perform checks and do a little maintenance every now and then to keep us safely on the digital road.
There are a variety of tool kits and examples of engagement ideas online to help individuals and cybersecurity teams throughout the month.
Your participation helps move the needle toward stronger cyber-hygiene that may lead to stopping a cyberattack from occurring.
Password manager — The use of a password manager is an important part of securing your digital life today because it allows for different passwords on different sites, extremely long passwords, random passwords you don’t need to remember and often protected by multi-factor-authentication.
If you have not committed to fully using a password manager, now is a great time to research options and setup a password manager for your sensitive password information.
App review — Performing a cellphone app review often is a forgotten aspect of being cyber smart.
When was the last time you pulled up your cellphone to review all the apps that were installed? What permissions do these apps have on your cellphone data?
Removing unnecessary and risky cellphone applications from your phone is a great way to ensure you are not putting your identity and privacy at risk.
Delete apps that you are unfamiliar with or no longer use.
Up-to-date software — One of the best defenses against malware and viruses is to keep your systems on the latest software to protect against known vulnerabilities.
Performing reboots of your machine to finalize updates as well as ensuring automatic updates are enabled will go a long way in keeping you protected.
Making a habit of shutting down your computer or rebooting after you are done working for the day also can make a big difference.
Watch for phishing — Phishing continues to be a significant part of how nefarious actors start gaining access.
Always stop and think before you click and always be aware of an email link asking you to login when clicked.
Review the address bar in your web browser and make sure that the site you are providing credentials for is legitimate and appropriate.
Pass along tips — Cybersecurity is not something that only cybersecurity professionals need to know or be concerned about. Passing cybersecurity tips to your friends, family and colleagues when you see someone engaging in risky behavior will go a long way in preventing a potential cybersecurity incident.
Do your part to remain cyber smart.
Paul Nus is director of technology at Folience, The Gazette’s parent company, and a board member of SecMidwest, a Cedar Rapids based not-for-profit focused on cybersecurity education. Go to SecMidwest.org for more information on attending its monthly meetings.