Alexandria, VA – When was the last time you updated your passwords? October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the city is encouraging residents to stay safe and secure online. With cyber breaches and leaks constantly in the headlines, you might just want to keep all your secret stuff locked down!
“Security breaches have become a regular occurrence for credit card companies, insurance companies, universities, and other corporations and institutions,” notes a city press release. “Cybercriminals do not discriminate: they target vulnerable computer systems whether they are part of a large corporation, a small business, or belong to a home user.”
The City recommends the following tips to keep yourself from being a cybercrime victim:
- Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls, visits, or email messages from unknown individuals asking personal information. Personal information is anything that can be used in identity theft or fraud, such as Social Security Numbers, financial data, health data, etc. If an unknown individual claims to be from a legitimate organization, try to verify his or her identity directly with the company.
- Don’t provide personal information unless you are certain of a person’s authority to have the information.
- Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information. This includes following links sent in email.
- Don’t send sensitive information over the Internet before checking a website’s security.
- Pay attention to the website URL. Malicious websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., .com vs. .net).
- If you are unsure whether an email request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Do not use contact information provided on a website connected to the request; instead, check previous statements for contact information.
- Install and maintain antivirus software, firewalls, and email filters to reduce some of this traffic.
- Phishing is a common online scam designed to trick you into disclosing your personal or financial information for the purpose of financial fraud or identity theft. Take advantage of any anti-phishing features offered by your email client and web browser.
- Check online banking and shopping sites to make sure they are security-enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information; “http://” is not secure.
- Backup computer data on a regular basis. Keep it on a separate device and store it offline.