Washington, D.C. – In addition to ball drops and bubbly, the New Year offers an occasion to reflect and contemplate what’s ahead in 2017. When Dec. 31 rolls around, many of us think about getting fit, saving more money and promising to take time to enjoy life. As the world becomes more and more connected – and our digital and offline lives become indistinguishable – we should also commit to take action to stay safer and more secure online and protect our personal data.
Securing key accounts should be the number one cybersecurity, self-improvement effort on everyone’s list of resolutions. A recent study conducted by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) revealed that close to three quarters of Americans (72%) believe their accounts are secure with just usernames and passwords.1 The fact is that usernames and passwords simply are not enough; hackers and cybercriminals continue to evolve their methods of attack, and users must improve their security to better protect their accounts. NCSA’s “top tip” for 2017 is to Lock Down Your Login, a simple step that helps ensure it’s actually you trying to access your account by providing multiple forms of verification.
“Today, so many of us are always connected. As we think about how to better safeguard our virtual lives, we’ve identified quick and easy tips that will help keep you on a safe and secure track year round,” said Michael Kaiser, NCSA’s executive director. “If you implement these five reliable practices, you will enjoy the benefits of connectivity with greater confidence. And, if you can convince your family and friends to do the same, we will all be safer and more secure online in 2017 and in years to come.”
NCSA’s Five Digital To Dos
Ring in the New Year right and get your online life in better shape by following these tried and true tips:
- Lock down your login: Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. In 2017, pledge to fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device.
- Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it: Just as you promise to keep a keen eye on your finances in this coming year, do the same with your personal information. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected by apps and websites.
- Own your online presence: Before the countdown to midnight begins, set the privacy and security settings on websites and apps to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
- Maintain the cybersecurity of your Internet of Things (IoT) devices: Connected devices like video cameras, wearables and fitness trackers are becoming extremely popular. In order to function properly, they collect personal data about their users. It is critical to make sure that the devices connect to a secure router and you understand the process for keeping these IoT devices secure over time.
- Do a digital cleanse: A good, thorough cleaning always helps to get the New Year off to a fresh start. Tend to your digital records, PCs, phones and any device with storage just as you do for paper files. Here are some easy steps to get you started:
- Clean up your email: Save only those emails you really need and unsubscribe to email you no longer need/want to receive.
- File upkeep: Delete or archive older files such as numerous drafts of the same document and outdated financial statements.
- Dispose of electronics securely: Wiping data isn’t enough. When you dispose of old electronics, look for facilities that shred hard drives, disks and memory cards.
- Back it up: Copy important data to a secure cloud site or to another drive where it can be safely stored. Password protect backup drives.
- Empty your trash or recycle bin on all devices: Make sure to permanently delete old files.
Visit stopthinkconnect.org/tips-advice/general-tips-and-advice to learn more.
View the 5 Every Day Steps Towards Online Safety tip card for simple ideas from the Department of Homeland Security on how to better protect yourself online and with your smart devices.
About the National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit, public-private partnership promoting cybersecurity and privacy education and awareness. NCSA works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and NCSA’s Board of Directors, which includes representatives from ADP; AT&T Services, Inc.; Bank of America; Barclays; BlackBerry Corporation; Cisco; Comcast Corporation; ESET North America; Facebook; Google; Intel Corporation; Logical Operations; Microsoft Corp.; NXP Semiconductors; PayPal; PKWARE; Raytheon; RSA, the Security Division of EMC; Salesforce; SANS Institute; Symantec and Visa Inc. NCSA’s core efforts include National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October); Data Privacy Day (January 28) and STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, the global online safety awareness and education campaign cofounded by NCSA and the Anti Phishing Working Group, with federal government leadership from DHS. For more information on NCSA, please visit staysafeonline.org/about-us/overview/.