Cybersecurity Tips from the National Security Alliance

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Cybersecurity Tips from the National Cyber security Alliance available at Staysafeonline.org.

Build security into products and processes. Make cybersecurity training a part of employee onboarding and equip staff with the tools they need to keep your municipality safe. Employees should keep cybersecurity at the forefront of your mind as you connect daily.

Before purchasing a device or online product, do your research. When you set up a new device or app, consider your security and privacy settings and update default passwords. Cybersecurity should not be an afterthought.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance has prioritized some basic steps that can be put into action now to reduce cyber risks. Reviewing the steps listed below will enhance your cybersecurity posture.

Remember smart devices need smart security. Make cybersecurity a priority when purchasing a connected device. When setting up a new device, be sure to set up the privacy and security settings on web services and devices bearing in mind that you can limit who you are sharing information with.

  • Put cybersecurity first in your job: Make cybersecurity a priority when you are brought into a new role. Good online hygiene should be part of any municipal onboarding process, exercise best practices to keep your municipality safe.
  • Make passwords and passphrases long and strong: Whether or not the website you are on requires it, be sure to combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create the most secure password.
  • Never use public computers to log in to any accounts: Make sure that security is top of mind always, and especially while working in a public setting, by keeping activities as generic and anonymous as possible.
  • Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when idle: To stay as safe as possible, if you do not need them, switch them off . It’s a simple step that can help alleviate tracking concerns and incidents. 

CYBERSECURITY FUNDAMENTALS:

Owning your role in cybersecurity and starting with the basics in protecting our information is the first line of defense we can take to enhance our cybersecurity without requiring a significant investment or the help of security professionals.

The National Cybersecurity Alliance has highlighted eight basics steps that we can put into action now to reduce our cyber risks.

Step 1: MAKE A LONG, UNIQUE PASSPHRASE – Length trumps complexity. A strong passphrase is a sentence that is at least 12 characters long. Focus on positive sentences or phrases that you like to think about and are easy to remember.

Step 2: PASSPHRASES AREN’T ENOUGH – Use 2-factor authentication on or multi-factor authentication (like biometrics, security keys or a unique, one-me code through an app on your mobile device) whenever offered.

Sept 3: WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT – Links in email, tweets, texts, posts, social media messages and online advertising are the easiest way for cyber criminals to get your sensitive information. Be wary of clicking on links. Essentially, just don’t trust links.

Step 4: KEEP A CLEAN MACHINE – Keep all software on internet connected devices including personal computers, smartphones and tablets – current to reduce risk of infection from ransomware and malware. Configure your devices to automatically update or notify you when an update is available.

Step 5: BACK IT UP – Protect your valuable work, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely. If you have a copy of your data and your device falls victim to ransomware or other cyber threats, you will be able to restore the data from a backup.

Step 6: OWN YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE – Every time you sign up for a new account, download a new app, or get a new device, immediately configure the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information sharing. Regularly check these settings (at least once a year) to make sure they are still configured to your comfort.

Step 7: SHARE WITH CARE – Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it might affect you or others.

Step 8: GET SAVVY ABOUT WIFI HOTSPOTS – Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing on your laptop or smartphone while you are connected to them. Limit what you do on public WiFi, and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) or a personal/mobile hotspot if you need a more secure connection.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency: Protecting Your Privacy https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST04-013

Federal Trade Commission: Cybersecurity Basics https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/small-businesses/cybersecurity/basics