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Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Consumers are constantly using new and emerging technologies both at work and at home.  As a society we’ve become more dependent on internet connection as events, employment, and momentous occasions move to virtual platforms. This in turn presents a need for increased security in our online world. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently reported that more than $4 billion was lost to cybercrime in 2020; a 20% increase from 2019.  A major reason why for the eighteenth consecutive year, the month of October is designated National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, to ensure all Americans are aware of the importance of cybersecurity.

The theme this month, “Do your part. #BeCyberSmart,” encourages individuals and organizations to view internet safety as a shared responsibility, while stressing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity.  The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) and its agencies join in this critical consumer protection initiative to raise awareness about online safety.  The Division of Banks (DOB) will release weekly consumer cybersecurity tips and resources throughout this October.  Visit the DOB website for weekly bulletins this month with advice and guidance on staying cyber safe.

To kick off National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, OCABR compiled a list of simple proactive tips you can take this month to enhance your cybersecurity.

  • If you connect it, protect it. Smartphones, computers, tablets, and even washing machines are Wi-Fi or network connected and therefore susceptible to potential security breaches. The best protection against cyber threats is to ensure your equipment is using the latest security software, browser, and operating system. Consider automatic updates and use anti-virus software when possible.
  • Mix-up passwords. Resist the urge to use the same password or pass-phrase for more than one account or platform. Incorporate lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters into your passwords.  Check out the online tool ‘How Secure Is My Password?’ to give your passwords a security boost this month.
  • Limit what you post on social media. The name of your dog, favorite coffee shop, or childhood home location are some of the small details cyber criminals want to access.  Disable location services allowing followers to see where you are posting from, and consider limiting the reach of your profile(s) by applying strong security settings.
  • Double your defense with multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA works to ensure that you are the only person accessing protected accounts.  If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device, such as your smartphone, an authenticator app, or a secure token.

Since 2003, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) have championed the Cybersecurity Awareness Month campaign in October. Each week the CISA and NCSA will focus on different cybersecurity awareness topics, like phishing, passwords, and MFA.

Visit the OCABR website for more information on protecting yourself from scams, fraud, and identity theft.

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