Simple Online Safety Tips for Cyber Security Awareness Month

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October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, a time set aside by the National Cyber Security Alliance to encourage active online users to consider the inherent risks we all take by logging on each and every day. The internet is a gateway into an exciting world that holds incredible knowledge and innumerable delights, but within that magical place lurk some dangerous people looking for ways to access your personal information and exploit it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and in some cases, your business.

To show support of Cyber Security Awareness Month, The White House has even launched a new nationwide campaign called “Lock Down Your Login,” in partnership with key industry leaders, aimed at raising awareness for the importance of online safety and empowering everyone to enable stronger authentication for their online accounts.

The following tips provide some basic online safety advice that all can easily start implementing. Also, make sure to join the conversation and learn how you can easily #LockDownURlogin with one simple step.

A Password Alone Is No Longer Enough to Keep Your Online Identity Secure

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In 2015, an estimated $15 billion in theft was attributed to online users logging in with insufficient security measures in place. You might think that your complex password is more than enough security, but you’d be wrong.

In fact, password-based security is extremely unreliable. Passwords are easy to share, which makes it easy for thieves to find them. They’re also easy to steal for the right kind of criminal. When you latch onto a public Wifi network, for example, you become susceptible to keystroke loggers — programs that can monitor your keyboard inputs and capture your passwords with ease — or even brute force attacks that can access your private machine and its secrets.

Two-Factor Authentication Is the Extra Edge You Need

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Simply put, in addition to a name and password, two-factor authentication (2FA) provides an additional level of security to online accounts. 2FA commonly works by asking for something you know (your password) in combination with something you have (your mobile phone and the one-time passcode sent to it) to confirm your identity across a variety of account activities–such as accessing your accounts from new devices, verifying transactions, or recovering your accounts.

Think of 2FA as cyber security equivalent using your bank debit card. To get the transaction approved, you need both your debit card and your 4-digit password. It may seem simple on the surface, but it’s an immensely powerful security tool in a world where you need all the online comfort you can get.

Think of Cyber Security as Just as Necessary as the Lock on Your Front Door

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A Pew Research Center Study conducted in 2015 found that more than 70% of Americans go online every single day. In the same study, 21% of Americans claimed that they were almost constantly connected to the internet. Each time you log on at work, every time you post a picture on Facebook, every time you pay a bill online, you’re opening yourself up to a cyber attack. Those risks increase when you log in from a new environment or from a new machine.

In your own home, you count on more than just a sturdy wooden door to keep your most valuable possessions safe and sound. You rely on the added security of a durable lock, as well. 2FA can act like the lock on your front door, protecting the private information on your computer with an extra measure of security that goes above and beyond a simple password. 

Educating Everyone About the Need for Added Cyber Security Is Extremely Important

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With the world inching closer to a time when we’re all connected all the time, it’s more important than ever to prepare those people who may not have an innate understanding of how to protect themselves online. Specific demographics, like children and elderly citizens, for example, may not be as aware of the threat facing them when they’re online.

Parents raising kids in the digital age are facing a challenge never before faced by previous generations. The key to raising a good digital citizen, though, boils down to continued education and lots and lots of time spent online together with your children. Putting parental controls in place, teaching your kids to recognize credible websites or scams, and staying mum on their personal information is extremely important, even at an early age.

Elderly people may also find themselves at a loss when it comes to cyber security. Though most will find themselves intuitively understanding the danger presented by going online, it might be important to educate them on the different ways that they can go the extra mile to insure their own safety. (See: Give Dad the Gift of 2FA for more.)

Some Areas of Online Interaction Might Be at Increased Risk for Cybercrime

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It goes without saying that you should always approach the internet with a certain level of caution, however, there are some areas where instances of cybercrime are actually more common than others.

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are extremely popular for a reason: they’re awesome. They’re also home to a several people who might like to take advantage of you or your children. It’s important never to publicly disclose your private information on one of these channels, for example, and always explore the network’s specific security and privacy settings before properly diving in.

It’s likely unsurprising that online shopping is a hotbed for theft. For instance, it’s always important to make sure that you’re only providing your credit card information through verified sources on credible sites. It’s never a bad idea to do some research on the site from which you’re making your purchases, as well.

Turn It On

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Learn how to enable 2FA on social networking sites, online shopping site and more through step by step tutorials.

And, if you have an online business that you would like to make more secure, check out the solutions offered by TeleSign and how they can increase growth by protecting your brand and your end-users from fraud.