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Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart

These days the line between our real and online lives is becoming thinner and thinner each day as we are constantly connected to the internet. This is even more true during the pandemic where remote work, home-schooling, and online shopping have become the norm – a norm maintained through online connections. As the internet becomes a bigger part of our lives, it’s important to protect ourselves from cyber criminals.

Every year October is designated as National Cybersecurity Month to ensure that all Americans are aware of the importance of cybersecurity. This year’s theme set by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is “Do your part. #BeCyberSmart.” The emphasis of the campaign is on the role that we each play in taking proactive steps to protect our online safety.

According to the NSCA, the volume of fraudulent emails and text messages spiked by more than 660% at the beginning of the Coronavirus (COIVD-19) pandemic emergency. In recognition of National Cybersecurity Month here are a few steps you can take to keep yourself safe online.

Make strong passwords to increase security. Most of us have dozens of passwords to keep
track of increasing the urge to use the same word, or phrase, more than once. Use unique passwords for each account. A typical keyboard has 94 characters. Use as many as you can, including upper-and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols. To find out the type of security boost you can give your password, check out How Secure is My Password?

Look for the warning signs of a scam. Phishing and imposter scam e-mails and text messages may contain typos and fake URLs. These messages often pressure you to act immediately, urge you to click a bogus hyperlink, or ask for financial information. Remember that government agencies will never email, or call, to ask for personal information or to demand money.

Ask questions and report potential incidents. Most of us have set up work-at-home spaces, but have limited access to an IT expert. If you are worried about software updates, or have questions about your work network connection, follow your employer’s process for contacting your internal support department. It is important to remember that the more information you give to IT departments, the better their response can be. If you think an incident has occurred, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel, make sure you report it immediately.

Whether you are online working from home, applying for a job, checking your bank account balance, or searching for love, stay vigilant and do your part. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that about 9 million Americans have their identity stolen every year. Enhancing your cybersecurity can help keep your personal, and work, information secure. Visit our website for #MAConsumer cybersecurity tips and the Division of Banks for online financial protection information. For more information on National Cybersecurity Month or how you can become involved visit the NCSA. #BeCyberSmart

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