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Cheers to the New Year and Getting "Two Steps Ahead" by Making a Digital Resolution

As the clock strikes midnight on December 31, resolve to protect your digital life with technology that is simple to use and long-lasting.

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Washington, D.C., Dec. 17, 2014 – As 2014 comes to a close, millions of Americans will toast to the New Year and reflect on lifestyle changes to ensure better health, improved finances and leading a happier, more fulfilling life. With the Internet as the hub of many daily activities, it is important to evaluate the safety and security of your “digital life” as it relates to social media, retail, banking and healthcare. Making a New Year’s resolution to set up Two-Step Authentication ‒ also known as “two-step verification” or “multi-factor authentication” ‒ is the one security and protective measure everyone can take to live a safer more secure life online in 2015.

Cybercriminals are crafty; they use many creative methods to gain access to accounts such as phishing attacks that try to lure people to reveal usernames, passwords and other personal information. They know many people still use weak passwords, such as “password123” and “1234567,” which remain the most popular passwords in 2014. To thwart cybercriminals, anyone who is active online should make a New Year’s resolution to take steps to make their accounts more secure, including turning on Two-Step Authentication.

Last year, only 8 percent of Americans stuck to their New Year’s resolutions1.  “Many well-intentioned resolutions require ongoing commitment and a lot of work. When you resolve to protect your digital life, just a few minutes can have a tremendous impact ‒ making your accounts more secure and protecting email, financial and social media sites,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). “It starts by implementing a free service, widely available on most leading Internet sites: Two-Step Authentication. It’s based on a simple concept that incorporates another identification factor ‒ for example, a one-time code texted to your phone ‒ to ensure it is really you accessing an account not an imposter,” Kaiser continued. “Activating this technology gives peace of mind about the safety of your online identity and sensitive personal data.” 

The National Cyber Security Alliance also recommends additional ways to make your digital life safer and more secure in 2015 (http://stopthinkconnect.org/tips-and-advice/overview):

  • Keep a clean machine: Keep software up-to-date on all Internet-connected devices to reduce risk of infection and malware.
  • Use a better password: Improve your defenses on accounts by making passwords that you can remember, are hard to guess, preferably use numbers, capital and lowercase letters and symbols and are different for all accounts.
  • Passcode protect:  Every device ‒ laptop, tablet or smartphone ‒ should be protected with a passcode or password to prevent access if lost or stolen.

“As you juggle work and home life, time is always tight. You may not pay as close attention to your email inbox, posts on social networks or even texts on your phone. These are all ways the cybercriminals might be trying to have you click on things you shouldn’t. Be extremely suspicious of communications that call for immediate action to an account or warn that something bad will happen if immediate action is not taken. Always STOP. THINK. CONNECT. by taking security precautions and having Two-Step Authentication in place. Basically, you should be very aware of your online actions and their consequences before connecting and enjoying the Internet with greater confidence,” continued Kaiser.

Two-Step Authentication can be implemented in different ways. The end result is the same: the process allows only authorized individuals to gain access to an account. Here is how it works:

  • When one logs in to an account, he/she is asked for “something you know”, like a user name, password, code or PIN.
  • Then, one is asked for “something you have”, such as a phone number, fob, token or chip.
  • A one-time-use code is then sent via phone call, text message or mobile app.
  • Once the code is received, it is simply entered and access to the account is granted.

Other examples of two-factor authentication that are easily set up are adding a passcode or finger swipe on your mobile device. 

Visit http://stopthinkconnect.org/2stepsahead to view an entertaining and educational video, which demonstrates the process in less than a minute.

For a complete list of email providers, social networks, other services and additional resources utilizing Two-Step Authentication, visit http://stopthinkconnect.org/2stepsahead/resources.

About The National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation's leading nonprofit public-private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the Internet. Working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), private sector sponsors and non-profit collaborators to promote cybersecurity awareness, NCSA board members include representatives from ADP, AT&T, Bank of America, Comcast Corporation, EMC Corporation, ESET, Facebook, Google, Intel, McAfee, Microsoft, Raytheon, Symantec, Verizon and Visa. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, non-profit and academic sectors, NCSA’s mission is to educate and empower a digital citizenry to use the Internet securely and safely, protect themselves and the technology they use and protect the digital assets we all share. For more information on NCSA please visit: http://www.staysafeonline.org/about-us/overview/

1Statistic Brain, Percentages/Numbers/Financials/Rankings, January 1, 2014




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Jessica Beffa
Thatcher+Co.
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