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Be Cyber Security Savvy


A report issued by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and McAfee security found that “17 percent say they have been a victim of a crime that was committed over the Internet such as identity theft, data theft, bullying or auction fraud.”

When considering the data, be aware that not all crimes were serious.  Still, the release of this study — along with the fact that a bunch of companies and non-profits have designated October as “National Cyber Security Awareness Month” is as good a time as any to remind ourselves about this important topic.

October is National “Almost Everything Month”

Not to dismiss the importance of this special month but October is also National Bullying Awareness Month along with National Book Month, National Work and Family Month, National Dental Hygiene Month, Let’s Talk Month and so many more, according to Wikipedia.

For more on the survey see “State of cybersecurity concerns” from my co-director, Anne Collier.

So, whether it’s October or any other month, you should still pay attention to cyber security  Not only are you protecting yourself and your family  but the rest of us as well.  Vulnerable machines that are taken over by “zombies” are a threat to everyone on the net.

You’ll find plenty of good advice at in addition to the following suggestions from NCSA:

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
  • Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
  • Protect your Money: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the site is security enabled. Look for Web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://”, which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.
  • Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.
  • Help the authorities fight cyber crime: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center ( and to your local law enforcement or state attorney general as appropriate.

The organization also advises consumers to:

  • Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
  • Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
  • Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems, and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
  • Plug & scan: “USBs” and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

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