In the ’80s, many of us couldn’t imagine the day when computers would be so commonplace we’d wear them on our wrists, carry them in our pockets and even use them in our cars and major appliances.
It was a different time, but even then, security needed to be a top priority. And in 1988, computer security professionals celebrated the first Computer Security Day.
Now, almost 30 years later, Nov. 30 is a day for tech users—from the seasoned pros who protect our country’s government, military and infrastructure to the most basic household computer owners—to investigate their network security and evaluate their understanding of cyber threats.
Small organizations can host their own CSD event like the one sponsored by CERT-MU. You also can start right in your own home or office:
1. Conduct a password audit. Are your passwords strong enough? They should have a 12 to 14 characters and use a mix of numbers, symbols, capital and lowercase letters. Start by changing the passwords to your most sensitive accounts, like your bank, email and online payment (i.e., PayPal) accounts. From there, make a deal with yourself to click “forgot my password” every time you use another account for the first time in December. It’s an easy step that will help you remember to change your passwords once in a while.
2. Check up on your antivirus software. Have you updated your antivirus software lately? Remember, if you haven’t installed the update or renewed your subscription, then your software hasn’t “learned” about the latest threats.
3. Back up your information. Ransomware is a growing problem, and too many victims lose all their data. But if you have a cloud storage account or an external hard drive, the worst it could cost you is the price of a new computer. That’s because you can spend the money you would have handed over to hackers and buy an upgrade instead. Then, just install all your old files from your external source, and you’re ready to go. Spend some time at the end of this month making sure all of your files are copied to a safe location.
Eva Velasquez is president and CEO of Identity Theft Resource Center, sponsored by CyberScout.