October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

According to the National Vulnerability Database, 5,121 new computer vulnerabilities were identified in the past 30 days. That’s a new vulnerability every 8 minutes.

Fortunately, October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the theme for 2020 is #BeCyberSmart. And it could not have arrived at a better time as scammers have clearly identified a new group to target: homeowners. Surprisingly nearly 33% of Americans aren’t concerned about cyberspace security, even as millions have moved their professional and personal operations to their home computers and internet. This has created an environment such that a home’s digital security is more vulnerable than ever. 

The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recommends taking the following precautions as a minimum to protect your digital home:

  • Secure your home’s Wi-Fi network with a strong password. A Wi-Fi router is an open door for cybercriminals unless you’ve protected your home network. 
  • If you connect it, protect it. Ensure all of your devices are running the latest operating systems, web browser updates and security software. Install antivirus software and back up valuable personal data including photos and homeowner documents into a safe and secure database such as with DomiDocs.
  • Take personal accountability and limit information you post on social media. Even though what you’re posting may seem random, you could be providing enough information for a cyberattacker to try and take hold. 
  • Check on your apps. Common free apps are free because they collect your personal information. Many apps from unknown vendors and sources can come along with a plethora of suspicious apps that will start running in the background.
  • Empower yourself by using multi-factor authentication (MFA). It’s a simple step that will help to ensure you’re the only person who has access to your accounts. If you need to log in, you should be using the MFA feature for services such as banking, email and social media. 

Although updating your technology device can be a bother, these updates are very important as they ensure your devices run smoothly with minimal security risks. Vulnerable devices in your home include all computers and cell phones that are connected to Wi-Fi as well as anything under control of a mobile app. 

Not sure how to create a strong password? CISA offers these tips:

  • Make a password with eight characters or more using a combination of numbers, symbols and letters. 
  • Use a passphrase, such as a book title or a news headline, and then add in capitalization and punctuation to make the passphrase even stronger.
  • Try to avoid using common words and substitute numbers or letters with symbols or punctuation marks, such as replacing an ‘a’ with ‘@‘. You can even use phonetic replacements such as using ‘ph’ as a substitute for the letter ‘f’.
  • Don’t use commonly known personal information as passwords including names of your pets or children.
  • Don’t share your passwords with anyone. According to a 2018 survey by Radware, scarily 31% of millennials shared account logins despite the high certainty they used the same password for online banking as they did Netflix.

The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) offers a list of free online security tools to check for potential vulnerabilities, such as spyware and viruses. Using these tools to scan your devices will help protect yourself from malicious attacks and cybercrimes such as identity theft.