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Cybersecurity awareness
Change your batteries, change your passwords
Life on the Ark.jpg

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and it’s also Fire Safety Month. The two don’t have a lot in common, at least on the surface, but they are both about creating awareness and taking proactive steps to prevent a disaster.

Because October also used to be the month we turned our clocks back one hour at the end of Daylight Savings Time, someone (Energizer maybe?) long ago came up with the catchy slogan, “Change your clock; change your batteries.” OK, Daylight Savings Time now ends on the first Sunday of November — Nov. 3 in 2019. Even though it’s not in October, it sounds like a slogan with possibilities: “Change your clock, change your batteries and passwords.”

Actually, what you need are strong passwords which are unique for each account.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, also known as NCSAM, was invented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The NCSAM 2019 overarching message is: “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.”

Here are some thoughts on social media cybersecurity:

• Remember, there is no “Delete” button on the Internet. Share with care, because even if you delete a post or picture from your profile seconds after posting it, chances are someone still saw it.

• Update your privacy settings. Set the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information sharing. Disable geotagging, which allows anyone to see where you are — and where you aren’t — at any given time.

• Connect only with people you trust. While some social networks might seem safer for connecting because of the limited personal information shared through them, keep your connections to people you know and trust.

• Never click and tell. Limit what information you post on social media — from personal addresses to where you like to grab coffee. What many people don’t realize is that these seemingly random details are all that criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and your physical belongings — online and in the real world. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords private, as well as specific information about yourself, such as your full name, address, birthday, and even vacation plans. 

• Speak up if you’re uncomfortable. If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let him or her know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them, and it is important to respect those differences. Don’t hesitate to report any instance of cyberbullying you see.

• Report suspicious or harassing activity. Work with your social media platform to report and possibly block harassing users. Report an incident if you’ve been a victim of cybercrime. Local and national authorities are ready to assist you.

Just a few things to consider the next time you go on social media.