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CHIPS Articles: Creating a Cyber Secure Home

Creating a Cyber Secure Home
By Andrej Stare - July-September 2020
As information and technology become more integrated and important in our professional and personal lives, it is imperative that we take steps to protect and secure it. These cyber tips provided by the SANS Institute and the Department of Homeland Security can help create a more cyber secure environment at home.
  1. Protecting Yourself and Your Digital Footprint:
  2. Cybercriminals have learned that the easiest way to get information is to simply ask for it. A person’s digital footprint may reveal a lot of useful information for cybercriminals to exploit. Beware of the information you post online.

    Also, if you receive an unsolicited message or call that seems odd; it may lead to harmful cybercriminal activity. Remember, common sense is your best defense.

    Particularly now during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Phishing attempts, including unsolicited calls or text messages, has increased significantly. Remember these attempts are used to trick you into responding by providing personal information, opening an infected attachment or clicking on a bad link that can introduce malware or other harmful viruses on your device.

  3. Securing Your Home Network:
  4. The Wi-Fi router is the physical device that controls who can connect to your home wireless network. Always change the default network name and password on your router.

    Configure your wireless networks so that anyone who wants to join will have to enter the password. Also, be sure to use the latest encryption which currently is WPA2.

    Lastly, keep track of all the devices connected to your home network.

  5. Securing Your Computers/Devices:
  6. Protecting your computers and devices is equally as important as securing your network to ensure that your home is safe. Here are a few recommendations to protect your devices.

    Ensure that all devices are protected by a strong password or personal identification number (PIN) and that they are operating on the latest software.*

    If possible, have two types of computers at home, one for parents and one for kids. If you are sharing a computer, make sure to have separate accounts so that the kids do not have privileged access. Also, computers should have a firewall and anti-virus installed that is enabled and running on the latest version.

    Lastly, when disposing of a computer or device, be sure that the device is wiped of any personal information. For mobile devices, there is a setting secure reset of the device.

  7. Securing Your Accounts/Passwords:
  8. Always use long passwords that are complex. Remember to use a different password for each of your online accounts.

    When possible set up the use of a two-step verification. Two-step verification is the process when successfully entering your password, an additional login such as a generated code is sent by email or text to gain access to your account.

  9. What To Do If Hacked:
  10. Create backups of all your information. In the event that your device is compromised, information can generally be recovered by backups.

    Monitor your online accounts. If an online account has been compromised, immediately change your password.

    Be vigilant and mindful of the various cyberattacks. Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. To keep current with all cyber related alerts from DHS, check the National Cyber Awareness System homepage at

* Note, for all devices issued by the DON, the following resources are available on the DON CIO website
1. Amplifying Guidance to the DON Acceptable Use Policy Regarding Collaboration Tools (DON CIO Memo - April 1, 2020): This memo provides amplifying guidance on the acceptable use of the Department of the Navy IT; i.e., Government Furnished Equipment. Use of collaboration tools greatly enhances our warfighting and business process capabilities during the COVID-19 crisis; however, the use of unauthorized collaboration tools on DON IT could expose critical information or introduce vulnerabilities.
2. Acceptable Use of DON Information Technology (DON CIO Memo - February 25, 2020): DON IT resources greatly enhance our warfighting and business processing capabilities. However, when used inappropriately and without regard to good practices, these same resources increase the DON's exposure to malicious intrusions, expose our most critical information to threats, and increase costs through spillage and higher bandwidth requirements.

Mr. Andrej Stare is a cybersecurity analyst and the Navy's Defense Industrial Base (DIB) lead in the Navy Cybersecurity Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare. He is currently on a detail to the DON CIO Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) team.

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Related DON CIO Policy

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