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Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Did you know that October was Cybersecurity Awareness Month? Since 2004 when the initiative began, the government has been trying to increase awareness of how to stay protected online. In a tech-dominated world, it’s important to stay protected. They are urging you to focus on 4 things you can do to drastically increase your safety: 

• Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
• Use Strong Passwords
• Recognize and Report Phishing
• Update Your Software

In addition to identity theft and fraud, there are 6 common cyber vulnerabilities: social media, cyberbullying, phishing scams, electronic crimes, smart toys and homes and ransomware. 

Social Media is used by at least 45% of the world’s population, which makes it a popular target for cybercriminals. Whether you are an individual or business, it’s important to stay secure. Nearly 1.3 billion social media users have had their accounts hacked in the last 5 years, and it’s estimated that 50-100 million active Facebook accounts are fake duplicates. How can you stay safe? 

• Only share information with your actual friends and family 
• Remove yourself from public searches 
• Be wary of third-party apps – some will install malware and viruses onto your system
• Use strong passwords. A good tip is to use the first letter of each word in a sentence. For example, if the sentence was “Davidson & Associates is my #1 favorite local insurance agency,” your password would be “D&Aim#1flia” 

Cyberbullying is an unfortunate epidemic being experienced by many of our youth – 59% of teens have been bullied online. Nearly all teenagers have a smartphone and 45% claim to be online “almost constantly.” How can you keep them protected? 

• Monitor a child’s cell phone activity with apps like TeenSafe
• Help them understand your goal is to keep them safe, not invade their privacy
• Put boundaries on mobile devices
• Take time to disconnect from your own devices and give the child your full attention 

Phishing scams are what start more than 90% of data breaches. Nearly half of all phishing sites use https encryption which makes them appear safe and 38% of malicious email files were Microsoft Office formats. How do you identify a phishing email? 

• If it seems urgent for no reason
• It’s a request from someone you don’t know personally or don’t do business with currently
• There’s poor grammar or odd syntax
• You hover over (do not click) the URL and it doesn’t match the description of the link
• It asks for sensitive information
• The sender’s email URL doesn’t match the identity claimed in the email 
• When in doubt, get a second opinion before clicking links or downloading files 
o Call the sender to verify this email is genuinely from them 

Electronic crimes are increasing as more people are online and storing personal information on their devices. A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds and 80% of the cost for losing a laptop is from data breach. How do you protect your devices?

• Password protect ALL your devices
• Install and regularly update antivirus and antimalware security software
• Power down when not using the computer
• Physically remove all storage drives before disposing of a computer

And how to protect your network?
• Always use encryption (WPA or WEP) to secure your network and wireless router
• Set wireless to no-broadcast
• Avoid using public networks and disable Wi-Fi access on your device when it’s not in use. 

Smart toys and homes can seemingly make our lives easier, but it’s important to take proper safety measures when they’re in place. Smart toys can be targets for hackers, yet 65% of parents are willing to pay more for a smart toy. Routers and connected cameras represented 90% of IoT attacks in 2018. How can you stay safe as toys and gadgets get smarter?

• Do your research on the product and look for red flags regarding privacy and security. 
• Teach your children what types of information is okay to share 
• Turn off the toys if they’re not in use
• Keep an eye on how the child uses the smart toy
• Turn off the toy during private discussions 
• Change the default password and update the software regularly

Ransomware is an attack on your computer or network that locks or encrypts your data unless you pay a ransom. Experts agree that you should never pay the ransom because it is unlikely you will get your data back. Preventative measures are most important. Mobile ransomware rose by 250% in 2018 and it’s estimated that 4,000 ransomware attacks occur daily. How do you stay protected?

• Back up all of your data
• Install antivirus software and update your system regularly 
• Never pay a ransom. You will be giving hackers additional information
Your identity is a valuable asset that’s easily compromised through a data breach. Your identity should be managed and protected properly. Find additional resources about protecting your identity portfolio here. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, there are steps that can assist in safeguarding personal information. To learn more about recovering after an identity theft, read here

Not only is the world becoming increasingly more online, but the online environment is also constantly evolving and developing new risks. There can be a lot of uncertainties regarding cyber security and online safety. We want to help walk you through what’s best for you and your family or your business. Please call or text us today at (360) 514-9550 to talk about your cyber needs and options. Our team is always here to be an educational resource for you, as well as someone who is helping you stay protected. 

To get Personal Cyber coverage to protect you against all the dangers above, get a quote here: https://davidson.sites.blinkin...