October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Here are 4 ways you can be cyber smart

By Shruti Ashok, Centre for Educational and Information Technology

With evolving technology comes evolving hackers. Did you know that weak passwords is the easiest way for hackers to gain access to your personal information? Did you know that 60 percent of consumers think using public Wi-Fi is riskier than using a public restroom?

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and it is important for us as a community, to be informed, aware and responsible, about the simple things we can do in our power to stay cyber safe and cyber smart.

Cybersecurity matters, not just on campuses, but also homes and while accessing websites and managing personal data on public networks.

4 ways you can be cyber smart

1. Passwords

Cybersecurity starts with strong password protection. Update your passwords regularly and use unique, strong and complex passwords for every account that you maintain. Don’t reuse your passwords between sites and systems.

  • Elements that make a strong password:
    • 10-20 characters
    • Combination of uppercase and lowercase letters
    • Include numbers and symbols
    • Don’t choose obvious passwords (e.g. Password, 123456 & replacements like ‘@’ instead of ‘a’)
    • Don’t choose passwords that can be found easily in the dictionary (any language)

2. Wi-Fi

Everyone loves public Wi-Fi! Hackers do, too. Open networks leave your data at risk, so in order to stay safe, only use secure Wi-Fi networks.

You should only perform financial transactions and other sensitive transactions, i.e. those that requires sharing your passwords and personal information, when you have a secured internet connection.

3. USBs

Don’t plug and play. If you see a USB device lying around on campus, do NOT plug it into your computer to see what’s on it. Turn it in to Campus Security.

Don’t use the same USB devices for home and College computers as you could run the risk of contaminating computers. If the device is malicious, it can install malware such as backdoor Trojans (a type of malware that can enable access for a remote hacker), information stealers and more.

4. Phishing

Think before you click – phishing emails are no longer just a message with bad grammar, they’re getting more and more sophisticated. Clicking on a link or opening an attachment in an email, even when it is from someone you know, can give an attacker full control of your device and passwords. Never hit “reply” if the email seems suspicious to you in any way. If you know the sender, you should check with them to make sure the link is safe.

Do not click on links embedded in emails directly. Instead, hover your mouse over it, and take a moment to check the URL address. Sometimes the link will take you to a different page with identical design and before you know it your device is already hacked.

Take the time this October to get informed about cybersecurity and be sure to follow us on Instagram, @douglascollege to participate in the upcoming password strength contest for a chance to win $500 tuition credit!