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Six Steps to Better Security

Written by Nichole Dennis, Program Director & Government Relations Specialist at CSN

It has become more apparent in recent times how crucial technology is in order for us to stay connected. We can work, go to school, manage finances and maintain social lives all from our devices. Therefore, our devices hold our personal, financial and account information. As we begin 2022 make one of your New Year’s resolutions to protect your information, accounts and devices. Here are six steps to take in order to be more secure: 

1. Protect accounts with strong authentication

Always enable two factor authentication (2FA). 

Weak or stolen passwords can provide hackers access to accounts. 2FA provides an extra layer of security by requiring an additional code to log in after a password is entered. Therefore even if your password becomes compromised, a hacker cannot gain immediate access to your account because they must also bypass the 2FA. Implement 2FA on all of your devices and accounts.

2. Keep software updated

Keep the operating system and security software up to date on all devices. 

  • Part of being secure is minimizing your exposure to security risks. Keeping software up-to-date helps reduce security risk and enables your device to perform at peak speed. 
  • You can turn on automatic updates on your applications, software and operating systems in your device settings. 
  • It is important to remove unused and inactive browser extensions to help avoid exposure to malicious browser extensions that can track your internet activity. 

3. Avoid phishing attempts

Never click on a link or open an attachment in a message or email from someone you don’t know. 

  • Pay extra attention when you receive an email that you are not expecting or includes other recipients that you don’t recognize. Don’t enter any personal or financial information directly to any links; instead, go directly to the verified website. 
  • Hover over links to verify that they are going to the correct website. Unsubscribe from all unnecessary automated emails to minimize potential phishing scams from contacting you.
  • Look for grammar and punctuation mistakes as these can be indications of a phishing email. Also be wary of giveaways and lottery winning offers, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. 

4. Use unique passwords

Create strong passwords. 

  • The goal is to make your passwords difficult to guess. The longer the password the better. Try to create a password with at least 12 characters. 
  • We recommend using a passphrase instead of a password. A passphrase includes a string of  numbers, symbols and upper and lower case letters. Use a phrase that is easy for you to remember but difficult for a hacker to guess. 
  • Don’t use readily available information that can be found on social media like birthdays or pet names for passwords. 
  • Always use different passwords for all of your accounts. This way, if your information is stolen in a data breach on one platform, your other accounts are not at risk. 
  • Don’t share your passwords via email or text message. 

5. Protect mobile devices

Keep the operating system and security software up to date on your mobile device. 

  • The software and operating system updates include security patches to known vulnerabilities. Be sure to also update applications and delete those that are no longer needed. Malicious applications can capture personal information without your knowledge. 
  • Only download applications from official sources. Look at reviews and feedback from other users before downloading. Check the permissions in your settings to see which applications have access to your location, photos, contacts, etc. If you don’t want an application having certain access, adjust your settings accordingly. 
  • Develop a back-up strategy. Storing your personal information on your phone creates a lucrative target for hackers. You can back-up valuable files to a more secure device. This ensures that your photos, documents and sensitive information won’t be lost if your device is hacked or wiped

6. Use trusted security tools

Use tools and services to improve your security. 

  • Mitigate your security risk by installing well known and verified security software. These tools can help you detect and avoid malicious software. Some malicious software includes keyboard loggers that log all of your keystrokes, in order to steal passwords and other information. 
  • To increase security, make sure you’re using up-to-date anti-malware software, anti-virus tools and anti-spyware tools. 
  • Password management tools are a great way to keep your passwords secure and help keep track of your many unique passwords.

By taking these six steps, you can start the new year off with better online safety. Share this information with your family and friends to help them start 2022 with stronger digital security.