NCSAM Week 1 – Social Media, Passwords, Cyber Hygiene

Welcome to National Cyber Security Awareness Month, also known as NCSAM!

Every week this month we will explore topics around the theme of “Own IT, Secure IT, Protect IT”. That’s not three typos in a row, that’s “IT” as in information technology. We are surrounded by it, in our homes, at work, in stores, and just about anywhere we go. We depend on it, just like we depend on our cars or bikes. That means, just like cars and bikes, we have to take care of it with regular maintenance, and make sure to lock it so it won’t get stolen.

Each week we will briefly explore an idea around each of these aspects of owning, securing and protecting. This week, in relation to “owning” our IT, we want to remind everyone to be careful what they post on social media. Once something is posted, nothing short of an EMP or nuclear war will remove it from the Internet (not that there would be an Internet left after either of these occurrences, but you get the point). These days, employers routinely explore prospective employee’s social media posts to get a better idea of the person they are considering hiring. Own your social media by being careful about what you post and also by asking your friends to not include you in potentially derogatory posts.

In the realm of “securing” our IT, please make sure you are using strong, unique passwords for your online accounts. Strong passwords should be long, at least 12, if not more, characters. Don’t be concerned so much with complexity, because longer passwords are generally better. Don’t use your name, your pet’s name, your phone number, or any other information that might be available online. Don’t reuse passwords between accounts, particularly passwords for financial, or other sensitive accounts. If you have a lot of accounts (and honestly, who doesn’t?) consider using a password manager to help you create and “remember” all those strong unique passwords. You can get more information on strong passwords and password managers at the table in Krannert on Thursday

Finally, concerning “protecting” our IT, follow good cyber hygiene practices. Just like you have to clean up trash, brush your teeth, and wash your clothes (at least occasionally), you should close out online accounts you don’t use, change your passwords periodically, and delete files you no longer need. You should also always lock your computer if you are stepping away from it (not recommended if it is a laptop. keep it with you!), and always use either a pin, or a bio-metric lock mechanism (finger scan, face recognition) for your mobile devices, especially your phone. Your phone is the key to so many of your online accounts. Make sure it is secured!

Check the table in Krannert on Thursday for info and goodies and a chance to put your name in the pot for a prize to be awarded on Halloween. Also, please take a moment to read each future week’s article.

Here is this week’s video, an oldie, but goodie about password security. You will have to log in using your email credentials to view the video



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