By Pat McGonagle, Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

Did you know that you are your own first line of defense against any type of cybersecurity threats? Have you been hacked? How would you know? As we enter the online holiday shopping season, it is important to remember cybersecurity attacks can be one click away. It is critical that you remain vigilant in protecting your personally identifiable information (PII) online.

Ransom-ware, credential theft, phishing emails and other attempts at cyber crime are much more common than you might think. Every password is a possible access point into your systems and devices. There are, however, simple ways to protect your information from cybersecurity threats.

Keep Your Defenses Up

  1. Sign up for automatic updates and protect your devices with anti-virus software. Keep software up to date to help block cyber threats.
  2. Back up contacts, photos, videos and other mobile data to another device or a cloud service. This is important because if your device is compromised, you must reset it to factory settings.
  3. Set your devices to lock after a short time and use strong device passwords.
  4. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure the only person with access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires you to enter a password.
  5. Create strong passwords and keep them private. A poor password, even at nine characters, can be cracked almost instantly. It would take centuries to crack a good password of 12 or more mixed characters.
  6. Treat Wi-Fi networks as a potential security risk. Never check financial or other sensitive accounts when using a public Wi-Fi network.

Don’t fall for phishing, vishing and smishing

Be on the lookout for emails, phone calls and other messages from people attempting to gain access to your information. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instinct and don’t reply or open attachments in these emails.

Always think before you click!

Do not click links or open attached files in emails or text messages from senders you do not know. Even if you do know the sender, hover over the link and check the sending email address before you click, as someone could be spoofing them.

Protect yourself

Our personal information is under a constant state of attack in this digital age and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Practice effective preventive controls to minimize the probability that your data will be breached.

It is always a good practice to remember that you are the first line of defense against cybersecurity threats.