October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

In today’s interconnected world, it is important to take precautions to protect your online identity.  To that end, Cyber Security Awareness Month was developed and adopted by Canada, Australia, the US, and over 25 countries in the European Union.

The goal of Cyber Security Awareness Month is to get users to think about the impact that their online activities can have in the real world, as well as providing effective measures that can be implemented to protect users from harm, such as identity theft.   

In support of Cyber Security Awareness month, the Canadian government has published 10 points as a guideline to reviewing your online cyber-safety practices.   They are listed below, and can be found online at the following URL: http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/sfttps/tp201010-en.aspx

1. Protect your identity

Use different usernames and passwords for different accounts. Make passwords harder to guess by combining letters and numbers, and change them regularly.

2. Turn on your firewall

Firewalls are the first line of defence: they block connections to unknown or phony sites and prevent viruses and hackers from accessing your computer. Your computer operating system has a firewall that can be turned on very easily.

3. Use anti-virus software

Install anti-virus software to prevent viruses from infecting your computer. This software should be updated regularly.

4. Block spyware attacks

Install anti-spyware software to prevent spyware from installing itself on your computer. This software should be updated regularly.

5. Install the latest operating system updates

Make sure that your applications and operating system (Windows, Macintosh, LINUX) are up to date.

6. Back up your files

Protect important files from viruses and physical damage such as flood and fire by regularly backing up your files on an external drive or removable media. Store it in a safe place.

7. Protect your wireless network

Wireless (Wi-Fi) networks are vulnerable to intruders if they are not protected once installed. Do this yourself, or ask an expert for assistance when you purchase a wireless router.

8. Delete emails from unknown senders

Never open emails or attachments from people you don’t know, and never follow any links to Web sites included in these emails. They might infect your computer with a virus or spyware. Delete such emails immediately.

9. Surf the Web safely

Be careful when sharing personal information such as your name, address, telephone number and financial information online. Check that Web sites are secure (such as when making online purchases) and that the privacy settings are turned on (such as when accessing or using social networking sites).

10. Get expert help

Call local police if you discover suspicious content online (such as child exploitation) or if you suspect computer crime, identity theft or a scam. If you need help maintaining or installing software on your computer, call a computer expert or a local supplier.

These tips are provided by Public Safety Canada.

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