Cyber Security: It’s for all of us

The recent cyber-jacking of millions of personal information attributed to Russian cyber criminals is a perfect opportunity to highlight some of the safety tips and initiatives that the OAS promotes.

The STOP.THINK.CONNECT campaign encourages traditional security prevention behavior and calls upon us to use a common sense approach when we step into the online world. The campaign promotes a safer online global community with the following basic safety tips: keep a clean machine, protect personal information, connect with care, be “web-wise,” and be a good online citizen.

Keeping a clean machine” entails ensuring that all connected devices are protected by anti-virus software at all times – this software should be current, with automatic updates enabled. External devices should also be scanned for viruses and malware to prevent infection. Criminals are increasingly attempting to acquire personal information online, so it is critical that all accounts are secured with individual complex passwords and verification. Passwords should combine a variety of numbers and symbols, and should be written down and stored in a safe location. Personal information can also be secured by changing security settings on websites to limit information sharing.

Falling victim to a cyber-thief can be avoided by conducting safety assessments before connecting. If a link appears suspicious or unsolicited, the safest approach is to delete it. Wi-Fi hotspots can also lead to devices being compromised; it is therefore crucial to adjust security settings when connecting to a new Wi-Fi.  Only enter sensitive information when an https:// address is used to confirm that a website is “security enabled.”[1]

Being “web-wise” is also a crucial step to enhancing cybersecurity by being conscious of new ways to stay safe online. Be wary of communications that asks for personal information, as these could be potential scams or phishing attempts. Being web-wise also means being prepared   by backing-up all valuable digital information on an external device.

Lastly, be a good on-line citizen by following the “post only about others as you have them post about you” rule,  assisting the authorities in their fight against cybercrime  by reporting stolen financial and identity information or generally suspicious activity.

These tips are not exhaustive but utilizing these and other measure will contribute to better and safer online habits by the global on line community.  By recognizing that each of us can make a difference in achieving the STOP.THINK.CONNECT goal of making the web better   for the global online community.

[1] “Tips & Advice.” Stop Think Connect. National Cyber Security Alliance & Anti-Phishing Working Group, 2014. Web Access: <http://www.stopthinkconnect.org/tips-and-advice/overview/&gt;.

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