Most of us have developed a very close relationship with our mobile devices: we carry them with us throughout the day, check them frequently, and even sleep with them nearby at night. Although mobile devices allow us to instantly connect with friends and family, to access the internet, get directions, and make purchases, this increased convenience also comes at an increased risk. Many of these online activities require us to provide personal information such as our name, email address, account number, and credit card information. This puts us at an increased risk of having this information compromised by cyber criminals.
As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015, the Department of Homeland Security is encouraging all Americans to follow these simple steps to ensure the security of their personal information online:
• Keep your private information private. Avoid sharing your full name, address, and other personal information online. Frequently check a website’s privacy options to ensure you have enabled the highest level of privacy as options may get updated or changed completely.
• When in doubt, throw it out. Links in emails, tweets, posts, and online advertisements are often how cybercriminals compromise your computer or mobile device. If it looks suspicious, it’s best to delete it, even if you know the source. If appropriate, mark the message as “junk email” so that future messages from the sender do not end up in your inbox.
• Set strong passwords. Setting passwords that are long, unique, and hard to guess is one of the most important things you can do to protect your online accounts. Changing passwords regularly and using different passwords for different accounts goes a long way to protecting your online information.
• Secure your accounts. Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many websites now offer additional ways for you verify your identity are before you conduct business on their sites, such as two-factor authentication.
• Secure your mobile device. In order to prevent theft and unauthorized access, use a passcode to lock your mobile device and always lock it when it’s not in use. Never leave your mobile device unattended in a public place.
For more information on how to get involved in National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015, visit www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month. For more cyber tips and resources, visit the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign at www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.
Dr. Andy Ozment is the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) within the National Protections and Programs Directorate (NPPD) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Source: DHS Cybersecurity Month blog.