While most know it as the month of celebrating Halloween, October is also National Cyber Security Month, a different kind of spooky season. Instead of ghouls and vampires, this annual event is dedicated to staying safe from phishers, cyber scammers, and other online threats—which can be more dangerous than the latter. It’s a great time to educate yourself and update your security, but it’s just as important to be aware of all year long.
Cyber criminals wait for no one, so once this month is through, make sure you don’t wait until next year to think about your security again. With the constant advancements in technology, it’s more important than ever to maintain cyber awareness year-round, maximizing best practices for staying safe in the digital world.
The Pillars of Cyber Security Month
National Cyber Security Month is built upon four pillars: strong passwords, enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), recognizing and avoiding phishing attempts, and regularly updating software. These four pillars provide a solid foundation for cyber awareness and defense, helping you and your business stay safe:
1. Strong Passwords
The first line of defense in protecting your personal and business data is strong passwords. These should be a combination of the following:
- Uppercase and lowercase letters
- Special characters
Pro tip: personal info like names or birthdays should always be avoided. Additionally, it’s important to use different passwords for each account to prevent multiple accounts from being compromised in one fell swoop.
2. Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication has become an increasingly popular tool within the realm of cyber awareness that adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a secondary form of identification in addition to a password. This could be a code sent to your phone or biometric data such as a fingerprint scan. Enabling MFA greatly reduces the likelihood of unauthorized access, preventing as many as 80–90% of cyber attacks, so don’t take it for granted!
3. Recognizing and Avoiding Phishing Attempts
Phishing is a common tactic to trick individuals into giving up sensitive information. These attempts often come in the form of emails, texts, or phone calls that appear to be from a legitimate source—serious scammers may even personalize it to you! To avoid falling victim, be cautious of any unsolicited messages asking for personal info, and double-check URLs before clicking on links.
This goes for your employees too—if your first line of defense is aloof, you’re in the danger zone.
4. Regularly Updating Software
Software updates often contain security patches that address vulnerabilities in the system. Regularly updating software, including operating systems and applications, is crucial in preventing cyber attacks. Keep your devices up to date to ensure maximum protection against potential threats.
Tips for Staying Proactive All Year Long
Once you’ve got those down, it’s time to look toward the future. It’s essential to stay on top of cyber awareness all year, so here are some proactive tips to help you maintain good habits and keep your data safe beyond National Cyber Security Month:
- Educate Yourself and Others: Stay informed about the latest cyber threats throughout the year and educate those around you on how to stay safe online. Blogs, newsletters, and news sites are great resources available to you all year long.
- Schedule Training for Your Team: Make sure your employees stay up to date too. One time isn’t enough, conduct regular training sessions to raise awareness about potential risks and teach employees how to respond to different types of cyber threats.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN): A VPN adds an extra layer of security by encrypting your internet connection and hiding your IP address. This handy tool helps protect your sensitive data while browsing online.
- Keep Personal Information Private: Be cautious about what personal information you share online, especially on social media. Cyber criminals can use this information to build a profile and potentially access your accounts.
- Regularly Back Up Important Data: In the event of a cyber attack or system failure, having regularly backed up data can save you from losing important information. Store backups on an external hard drive or cloud storage to keep them safe.
- Be Cautious of Public Wi-Fi: Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive transactions such as online banking, as they leave you more vulnerable to a breach.
- Use a Reputable Cyber Security Company: Partner with a trusted cyber security company like AIS (Advanced Information Systems) to ensure the highest level of protection for your personal and business data.
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything that goes into cyber awareness, don’t worry. A reliable partner in cyber security can be a game changer, helping you simplify your data’s safety. Rely on a trusted partner to keep up with the latest software and trends so you don’t have to, giving you peace of mind and improved security long after this month is over.That’s where AIS comes in. Our team of experts provides comprehensive solutions to protect your business from cyber attacks. From risk assessments and vulnerability management to incident response and recovery, we’ve got you covered. Don’t wait until spooky season to act—contact us today and stay cyber safe all year long.