October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, and we’re recognizing it by sharing the top six tips our Black Hills Energy cyber gurus emphasize with their own families at home.
- Do not give out private information. Beware of unsolicited phone calls, emails, or even visits from someone saying they’re with one of your utility or other trusted service providers. Don’t give out information like account information, social security number, credit card numbers or bank account information. And don’t feel rude questioning the identity of someone claiming to represent a company. To verify if someone is who he says he is, don’t use any of the phone numbers he might provide. Instead, look up contact information for the company he’s claiming to represent, and call to verify.
- If you connect it, protect it. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game device, or other network devices, make sure the operating system, anti-virus and web browser software are up to date. Change the default passwords on any network connected device you install. Never plug in an unknown USB drive that you find laying in the parking lot or receive in the mail. It’s highly likely to be part of a scam. Finally, be sure to periodically back up any data that cannot be recreated such as photos or personal documents.
- Secure your Wi-Fi network. Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices. Secure your Wi-Fi network and your digital devices by changing the factory-set default password and username.
- Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) on any application you can to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in.
- Keep tabs on your apps. Most connected appliances, toys and devices are supported by a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved, which means they could be gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Make sure you only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.
- Think before you click. Scams are on the rise as scammers try to take advantage of people’s heightened anxiety during the pandemic. Many COVID-19 scams take the form of emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes.
We hope these tips from our experts will help you stay safe at work, at home, and everywhere in between. Follow us on social media for more tips throughout Cyber Security Awareness Month. #BeCyberSmart.