National Cyber Security Awareness Month: 4 Tips for Improving Security

The other day a friend notified her “Facebook friends” that she updated her Facebook profile by changing her last name. She explained the change in an effort to protect her privacy, so that she’d remain anonymous to those outside her social circles.

While I respect the attempt to secure her profile and remain private, I couldn’t help but wonder to what extent her profile change would actually provide that coveted privacy. With so much data about each of us, both personally and professionally, floating around in cyberspace, how long will it take for a perpetrator to connect the dots and create the association between her identity and her alias?

For businesses, attempts to hack into corporate data and steal member’s identities and personal information, as well as steal intellectual property, occur successfully daily; Sony, Anthem, Target, Home Depot, Ashley Madison; should I go on?

The month of October, as ‘National Cyber Security Awareness Month,’ is an appropriate time to take stock, and assess our existing cybersecurity practices. It is a time to evaluate the efficacy of existing security procedures and identify gaps and room for improvement.

Consider the recommendations below on how to implement a better overall security posture.

  1. Install software updates – As new vulnerabilities are identified – and they will – software is quickly patched and updated. It is critical that your devices remain up to date to ensure proper security.
  2. Unique, secure passwords – Humans are often the weakest link in security, and passwords are a majorly overlooked aspect of a secure system. Passwords must be long, complex and unique. Use password manager tools to generate, store and manage strong passwords.
  3. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt – Encryption refers to all forms of communications. It goes without saying that internet connections and databases storing sensitive information require encryption. However, consider just as critical forms of communication, including mobile phone calls, and messaging.
  4. Never access sensitive information over public Wi-Fi – According to the US Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), 81% of business travelers access insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots, such as in hotels and airports. While such Wi-Fi hotspots are convenient, their use includes high risk since it is relatively easy to intercept public Wi-Fi traffic.
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