HOW (AND WHY) TO STAY CYBER SECURE
As people have become more reliant on computers and cell phones for just about anything and everything, security threats have become increasingly prevalent. Moreover, as we spend more time online because of the ongoing pandemic, cybercriminals are eager to swoop in and steal sensitive information.
Fully protecting one’s personal information and digital accounts may seem daunting or unmanageable as no security measure can ever guarantee absolute security. However, these tips and tricks will help you to stay cybersafe in this era of technology.
Techniques to ensure cybersecurity
The following tips and tools can help individuals better secure their cyber presence:
Use two-factor authentication (2FA), sign up now mandate is Aug. 1, 2021.
Two-factor authentication is an extra security measure that requires users to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a system. To use 2FA, you need the following two things:
Something you know (i.e. a PIN number or a password)
Something you have (i.e. an ATM card, a one-time passcode (OTP), fingerprint, etc.).
Binghamton University is asking that all individuals use 2FA for services including myCourses (and soon to be Brightspace, the new LMS), myBinghamton, BU Brain and others now. The entire campus will be required to use 2FA before the start of the fall semester, (mandate is August 1, 2021) so opting in as soon as possible will help keep your access safer.
Keep your operating systems up-to-date and get tech ready for the semester.
If you have a PC, be sure to upgrade to Windows 10. If you have a Mac, upgrade to macOS Big Sur. It’s also important to install the patches/updates that Microsoft and Apple release on a monthly basis.
ITS recommends installing updates on all devices regularly. Outdated operating systems are becoming a target for cyberattacks due to their vulnerabilities. It is important to regularly install software updates, especially while you are working remotely. Every new software update has multiple bug fixes, security updates and patches to improve cybersecurity significantly.
To check for computer updates:
Windows - Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button in the lower left corner. In the search box, type Update, and then, in the list of results, click either "Windows Update" or "Check for updates". Install critical Microsoft Windows updates immediately.
Mac - Go to the Apple icon, select System Preferences, then click "Software Update." Install the updates immediately.
It is also important to keep your mobile phones/tablets (i.e IOS / Android devices) up-to-date, as bugs and patches are fixed regularly here too, thereby making the devices less vulnerable to attacks.
For more helpful information check out:
The Student Technology Help page
The Faculty & Staff Technology Help page
The Tech Checklist (IT information to utilize inorder to prep for the next semester).
Install antivirus software.
Antivirus would make sure your device is being protected from malware and minimizes risks from the cybercriminals. There are multiple antivirus softwares that could be available for free.
Also, Use firewalls to protect your devices from malware and increase the safety of your data. Firewalls are used to examine network traffic and enforce policies based on instructions contained within the Firewall's Ruleset. Firewalls represent one component of a strategy to combat malicious activities and assaults on computing resources and network-accessible information.
Practice good password management.
Replace default passwords with strong, unique passphrases and NEVER use the same password for multiple accounts. Create complex & unique passwords. Google recommends passwords that are longer, memorable, and unique to each account. Avoid personal information and common words. Treat security questions as passwords or lie when answering them as security questions are becoming outdated.
Carefully evaluate email attachments and links BEFORE clicking on them. Report “phishy” emails to email@example.com.
Be wary of any “urgent” themed message that requires an immediate response or action.
Don’t respond to unsolicited job offers. If it’s too good to be true, it most likely is.
Legitimate businesses and government entities are aware of phishing scams and would not ask you to send sensitive information in response to unsolicited email. You should treat these messages like spam and never reply to them. Information Technology Services advises people to never send any passwords via an email message for any reason. Don’t blindly give out personal information. Only share sensitive information with legitimate, authorized parties.
Turn off your bluetooth and Wi-Fi on your devices when not in use.
Leaving your bluetooth and WiFi on all the time might facilitate the hackers and cyber thieves an opportunity to access your device, personal information and spread malware. Keeping devices’ bluetooth and Wi-Fi off when not in use would minimize threats and can prevent real vulnerabilities.
Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks; practice safe and secure browsing.
Public Wi-Fi networks expose the connected devices to multiple threats making them vulnerable. So, do not compromise your privacy and data by getting connected to an unknown Wi-Fi network (Or) VPN can be used while using public WiFi networks; virtual private network (VPN) creates a private encrypted connection between a computer and a server somewhere else. That server can be used to browse and work on the internet, masking the IP and location data for the user.
Also, only use secure websites. Check for a padlock or “https” at the beginning of the URL, this ensures security. Don’t click on pop-ups, as they might be filled with malware. Use ad blockers whenever possible.
Never insert foreign USB drives into your computer.
Plugging in foreign USB drives into your computer might subject your system to threats from varied malware, ransomware, viruses and spyware. If you are still plugging in a foreign USB, disable autorun and scan the device before proceeding further.
Backup your files to the cloud (i.e. Google Drive) and/or to an external hard drive.
Maintaining backup always saves your important files from any catastrophes.
Turn off the location on your devices when not required.
Switch off the location on your device when not in use to avoid tracking by varied perpetrators. Also, Don’t disclose your location on social media.
Be sure to guard your modes of online payment.
Check your online accounts and financial statements regularly for suspicious activity. Use credit cards (not debit) when shopping both online and at brick & mortar retail stores. If something goes wrong, it’s much easier to get your money back with a credit card than it is with a debit card.
Don’t publicly share private meeting links and be sure to update your Zoom client on a regular basis. Always sign-in to your Binghamton Zoom account FIRST. Hosts should use passcodes and waiting rooms for added security.
Don’t rely on default privacy settings, as they’re not always set to the most secure option. You may have to manually reconfigure them yourself.
For questions or assistance, please contact the ITS Help Desk at 607-777-420 or HelpDesk@binghamton.edu.