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Why Cybersecurity Matters

Person on phone and computer.

The digital landscape has transformed over the years, with new threats emerging each day. No single person is immune to these threats. Vulnerabilities can be exploited, data can be leaked, and cybercriminals can leverage unsuspecting users to steal personal information.

Elements of daily life are dependent on technology. It has been integrated in recognizable places, such as the workplace and school environment, as well as less-recognizable global environments, including that of the supply chain. Many people carry technology with them at all times, whether it be a mobile device, smart watch, or other device that allows connectivity to the digital world. 

The increased use of technology has resulted in personal data being heavily stored online. From payment details to medical history to social media posts, your information exists within the digital ecosystem even if you cannot see it. If not careful, it can be a matter of moments before your information is placed in the hands of a cybercriminal.

Given the prevalence and use of technology, it is crucial that you have awareness of the cyber world and stay vigilant to protect your online presence.

Common Types of Threats

  • An attempt by a cybercriminal to steal personal information while posing as a reliable source and luring an unsuspecting user to provide the information requested. These attempts may be received via email or text asking to verify account information or pay a bill, but it is not from the actual provider or organization. Learn more about phishing attempts.

  • Short for “malicious software”, it is any harmful software that is stored on a device. It is commonly used to compromise it. Malware gives cybercriminals access to the infected device, allowing them to monitor personal information and sensitive data.

  • A malicious code or program designed to alter the operation of a device that can spread from one device to another. Viruses can spread through removable media tools, email attachments, and web pages.

  • A type of malware that blocks access to device files, systems, or networks unless a ransom is paid. Some cybercriminals may threaten to publish personal data until the ransomware payment is received.

  • A manipulation tactic used to deceive a user to take a questionable action or compromise information. The information pulled from a source may appear harmless on the surface, but attackers can move from source to source to piece information together until there is enough to use to exploit data.

  • A malicious code that appears harmless but is actually designed to hold a virus or other damaging file. They can be hidden in free software or email attachments.

  • A type of virus that spreads from device to device without interaction, granting cybercriminals access to the device remotely. Worms are intended to use all a device’s resources, which can cause the device to stop responding.

Best Practices

The following are common best practices to keep you and your information safe.

  • Keep software up to date. Run patches and allow automatic updates to run on your device. Learn more about patches and software updates.
  • Remove end-of-life (EOD) software to avoid exploited vulnerabilities and compatibility issues.
  • Secure Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Avoid connecting to smart gadgets or Bluetooth devices that store personal information. Change the nickname on home assistants to a name that only you and your family know. Learn more about Bluetooth technology and securing IoT devices.
  • Have strong, unique passwords that are a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Learn more about choosing passwords and supplementing passwords to keep them secure. Using a passphrase as a password can also help secure your account, as passphrases are unique to you and difficult for others to decode. Learn more about using a passphrase to create a strong password.
  • Review your accounts. Review your digital records and delete unused accounts to protect against potential attacks. Learn more about staying safe on social networking sites.
  • Use an antivirus to conduct automatic and manual scans of files on your device. Keep malware and virus definitions up to date so that the latest versions of attacks can be detected. Learn more about antivirus software.
  • Adjust your Wi-Fi settings. Modify your router’s default password, adjust default settings, and reduce signal strength to make them more secure. Learn more about home network security and securing your Wi-Fi.
  • Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). This added layer of security provides another step to the log in process to ensure it is you accessing the account. The factor can be something you know, such as a pin number; something you have, like a phone; or something you are, like a fingerprint. Learn more about MFA.
  • Adjust your mobile device settings. Only download applications from your device’s official app store. Read app permissions and limit location tracking. Learn more about privacy for mobile device apps.