10 tips to keep in mind during Cybersecurity Awareness Month

When using public WiFi, don’t access accounts where your financial accounts or personal information are stored

Storyblocks: Cybersecurity

For Cybersecurity Awareness Month, KSAT Community in partnership with Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union has provided information on how to build a safer and more secure online experience.

As cyberthreats are very much real, reports of identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission increased 20% in 2018, 46% in 2019 before a 113% increase last year, according to Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union.

Johnny Heintz, vice president of RBFCU’s IT Information Security generated a list of things anyone can do to protect their personal online accounts at home through the website cipher.com.

Cybersecurity tips include the following:

  1. Keep your software up to date.
  2. Use firewall and anti-virus protection.
  3. Try strong passwords and even an online password manager.
  4. Two-factor or multi-factor authentication.
  5. Beware of phishing, suspicious emails or texts.
  6. Know what Personal Identifiable Information is and how to protect it.
  7. Keep your mobile devices secure.
  8. Back up your data often.
  9. Don’t use public WiFi.
  10. Review your credit reports.

RBFCU recommends using sites staysafeonline.org and cipher.com since they offer good, basic cybersecurity information.

“The biggest things that we always harp on are protecting your passwords, and be very suspicious – to the point that you don’t open – emails or texts from senders you don’t recognize,” said Heintz. “Even if you receive an email or text from a friend, be cautious if there is a link or an attachment. Connect with your friend and ask if they intended to send an email like that.”

In many cases, this is where “phishing” originates – these are enticing emails or texts that appear to be sent from legitimate organizations but in reality are sent by fraudsters trying to acquire your personal information including sign-in credentials.

It’s encouraged to use strong passphrases that incorporate mixed characters – at least 12 characters in length.

Try not to use the same password for different logins. Don’t do that, in particular, if you have accounts at more than one financial institution, including insurance providers, retirement advisors or any place you might not consider a financial institution. If you have money or sensitive data on those sites, use different passwords that don’t come close to appearing or sounding the same.

Use a password manager to store your passwords or passphrases rather than trying to remember them or by writing them down. Also, enable “multi-factor authentication” that requires usually a two-step process to verify your identity.

Multi-factor authentication makes it more difficult for a hacker to break into your account. Keep your software up to date with the most current operating system, which will include the latest security features built-in. Double-check your privacy and security settings on all websites where you have an account.

As to using public WiFi, do not access accounts where your financial accounts or personal information are stored.

Also, your financial institution can help with products that prevent identity theft. For example, RBFCU offers MemberSafe that will give users unlimited alerts when something changes their personal information or credit history.

A level of fraud reimbursement is included and they’ll get a credit score simulator and tracker.

To learn more about RBFCU, click or tap here.

KSAT Community operates in partnership with University Health, Energy Transfer and Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union.

About the Author:

Kiersten has been a Digital Content Creator with KSAT12 since 2017. She graduated from Texas State University with an electronic media degree and previously worked for the Spurs Sports & Entertainment.