It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Week – here are a few tips

It’s time to stop and take a moment to consider cyber security, says the Australian Government. Once a year, the government gets together in partnerships with industry, the community, and consumer organisations to help make people aware of basic steps they can and should do to protect their personal and financial information.

This year’s theme on their Website is “Our Shared Responsibility”. I encourage you all to go out and look at their website, where they help distill a lot of activities down to the basic 10. (With commentary by me.)

  1. Install and update your security software and set it to scan regularly. If you’re broke, there are free A/V options from Microsoft, AVG, and Avast. Install one of these at minimum! Then as soon as you can, upgrade to a top-rated A/V like Norton.
  2. Turn on automatic updates on all your software, particularly your operating system and applications. Just do it. Microsoft pushes updates on the second Tuesday of every month. Get used to a reboot when required.
  3. Use strong passwords and different passwords for different uses. Don’t use the same password for your bank as for email and Facebook. And change them at least quarterly!
  4. Stop and think before you click on links and attachments. Most infections come in through ‘social engineering’ – that is, convincing people to open up a file or click a link with a virus payload.
  5. Take care when buying online – research the supplier and use a safe payment method. Look for the green bar, and the Norton Secured Seal!
  6. Only download "apps" from reputable publishers and read all permission requests. 
  7. Regularly check your privacy settings on social networking sites. Sharing isn’t always caring!
  8. Stop and think before you post any photos or financial information online.  We saw people posting pictures of their receipts and checks on FB once. Don’t be crazy!
  9. Talk with your child about staying safe online, including on their smart phone or mobile device. Teach them never to share their passwords with friends, and not to save their logins on unfamiliar machines. Show them how to check the No button!
  10. Report or talk to someone if you feel uncomfortable or threatened online. Cyber bullying is a crime! If someone is trying to intimidate you or your family members, report it immediately to the police.

The site didn’t list it, but I believe strongly in power-on password protection in case your computer or phone is stolen. I use the ‘find my phone’ app for tracking it to the bad guy who might steal it. And back up your files securely – encrypted online or on a back-up hard drive.

Be vigilant about your own protection, because the cyber criminals are certainly vigilant about finding easy targets.

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