VP for Information Technology & CIO

Cyber Credentials

Another cybersecurity attack compromised more than a billion user name / password combinations this week. The group is thought to hail from Russia. Much attention is given this intrusion due to the magnitude of accounts affected. Let’s face it. If you are on line — and obviously you are or you wouldn’t be reading this — you could be a victim.

We cannot completely prevent our account credentials from compromise. We can, however, be cyber aware and take certain precautions to minimize our risk. Much as driving safely and following the rules-of-the-road in the hope of avoiding an automobile accident, cyber transportation has rules and guidelines, too.

Following are just a few tips that may help keep your information safe:
1. Use strong passwords for accounts that contain personally identifiable information (PII) and financial data.
2. Use different user names and different passwords for each account. That means don’t use the same ones and don’t reuse passwords.
3. Change your password every 90 days — or more often.
4. Check your on-line accounts frequently and watch for items that appear “odd” or out of your ordinary.
5. Never simply “click to accept” a link in an email. Usually, hovering over the link before clicking will reveal the actual location, not the stated location. A link does not have to be the same as the text.
6. Never accept an agreement on a website without taking time to read it. Even though it seems there is a lot of legalese, these agreements are designed for the benefit of the company, not you. The agreements will tell you if you are using a “personal” service or a “business/enterprise” service.
7. If you suspect fraud or intrusion, notify the company or the authorities. Remember to look up the company telephone number rather than accepting the one in an email.

Being cyber aware, just as being aware walking down the street at night, will reduce your cyber risk.