Cyber security: Do you know how to #BECYBERSMART?

Oct 7, 2021, 7:00 AM
Iran digital intrusion...
(Stock Photo)
(Stock Photo)

SALT LAKE CITY, — October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

The Utah Department of Public Safety has some tips to keep our personal information and devices safe. 

Cyber Security

Scammers and hackers are always trying to separate us from our money or property. 

Utah businesses were scammed out of more than $13 million last year and roughly $6 million among private Utahns, according to the Department of Public Safety. 

While the effort of protecting our digital selves might seem cumbersome or overwhelming, a few extra steps can make all the difference. 

“There’s just a handful of things that quickly learn…about how to prevent ourselves from being victims,” said Sgt. Jeff Plank with the State Bureau of Investigation. 

He suggests taking that time regularly and the DPS has several suggestions. 

Update passwords

It is widely accepted that a simple password is a vulnerable password. Using easily guessed words or phrases might leave someone open to an intrusion. 

“Making sure that you’re using upper and lower-case letters and numbers, even symbols,” Sgt. Plank said. 

He also strongly urges against reusing passwords for multiple accounts.

If a password is exposed by a data breach, hackers can then use them with an email address to see if they can access other accounts. 

2-factor authentication

Despite being an available tool for years, 2-factor authentication is becoming more popular

This is an added security feature offered by many companies which sends a verification code via text message or push notification to make sure it really is the account owner when an attempt to log in is made. There are several inexpensive, or free, authentication applications available. These easily interface with many bank websites or email accounts. Some organizations also offer physical authentication tokens which produce randomly generated sequences of numbers every 30-60 seconds. 

Sgt. Plank said, “We want to use 2-factor authentication whenever we accessing accounts that are associated with our email…our banking information, or health information.” 

He reiterates it might take a few minutes to set up this added layer of security but only adds a few seconds to the log-in process afterward.

Social media

We live in an age of sharing. Many people like to share nearly every aspect of their lives with their friends and followers online. This garners likes and upvotes, but it also can be dangerous

Sgt. Plank says hackers can sometimes use the information we post in attempts to pose as us or access our private accounts. Those looking to steal physical items from us can even be tipped off by what we post. 

“Sometimes we go on vacation and we post all of our pictures while we’re away…basically notify someone that you’re not home,” said Sgt. Plank. 

He says it might be a better idea to tell the world about your travels after you return home. 

Email and phone scams

Scammers are getting more creative every day. Each new phishing scam is more elaborate and convincing than the last. It’s important to be on the lookout for suspicious messages from unknown senders. 

“Familiarize yourself with the biggest scams that are out there,” Sgt. Plank said. “This will save you [and] your company huge headaches, a lot of money, if you can just easily recognize some of these simple scams that come over email or our phone every day.” 

He says business email compromise scams and romance scams are the most common (and the two that Utahns are most likely to fall for) right now. 

Sgt. Plank highly recommends businesses provide regular cyber security training to their employees to stay on guard against the latest scams. 

For more ways to #BECYBERSMART, visit the Department of Public Safety Website

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Cyber security: Do you know how to #BECYBERSMART?