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National Cyber Security Month offers tips for staying safe online



October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the Department of Technology Services for Washoe County is trying to help citizens stay safe online.

Coordinated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), the National Cyber Security Alliance, many governments, businesses, schools and other groups, National Cyber Security Awareness Month’s goal is to help improve cyber security preparedness.

Why Is National Cyber Security Awareness Month So Important?

In an online, mobile society, there is an increasing barrage of cyber threats every day. Whether at work, home, or school, virtually every part of our lives is now in some way or another connected to the Internet.

The Facts:

Someone becomes a victim of cyber crime every 18 seconds

Cyber crime costs an average of nearly $200 per victim

Mobile device vulnerabilities doubled in 2011 from 2010

40% of social network users have been victims of cyber crime on a social networking site

What You Can Do:

Secure your online transaction. When submitting your sensitive information, look for the “lock” icon on the browser’s status bar to be sure your information is secure during transmission. Also be sure that “https” appears in the website’s address bar before making an online transaction. The “s” stands for “secure,” and indicates that communication with the webpage is encrypted.

Use strong passwords on all your accounts. Use a minimum of eight characters and a mix of special symbols, letters, and numbers. Use separate passwords for each account, so that if one account password is breached, an attacker will not automatically have access to all of your other accounts. Do Not re-use your work password on other systems.

Don’t reveal too much personal information online. The less information you post, the less data available for a cyber-criminal to use in a potential attack or scam.

Protect your laptop, smartphone, or other portable devices when traveling. Just as your wallet contains lots of important and personal information that you wouldn’t want to lose, so too do your portable devices. Don’t let them out of your sight! Never store your laptop as checked luggage. If there is a room safe available at your hotel, use it to securely store your devices. In addition, make sure you have strong passwords on these devices in case they are lost or stolen.

Be aware that public computers and public wireless access are not secure. Cyber criminals can potentially access any information you provide, such as credit card numbers, confidential information, or passwords. Don’t conduct any sensitive transactions at the local free Wi-Fi site.

Understand if and how location data is used. Check to see if GPS location data is being stored when you upload pictures to your social media site from your mobile device, and disable it if you don’t want the world to know exactly where the picture was taken.

Do not e-mail sensitive data. Beware of emails requesting account or purchase information. Delete these emails. Never e-mail credit card or other financial/sensitive information. Legitimate businesses don’t solicit sensitive or confidential information through email.

For more information, please visit Stop.Think.Connect at www.stopthinkconnect.org and the National Cyber Security Alliance at www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam.

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