October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

Today, we are more connected than ever before through the Internet. Citizens, schools, libraries, businesses, governments and other organizations use the Internet for a variety of tasks every day to stay connected with family and friends, manage financial records, conduct research, apply for jobs and student loans, provide educational opportunities, perform business operations and more. While each of these creates efficiencies in our daily lives, the connectivity has also increased the ways of heightening online security.

Internet users and South Dakota’s information and technology infrastructure face an increased threat of malicious cyber-attacks, loss of privacy from spyware and significant financial and personal privacy losses due to identity theft and fraud. 

How can users and government employees stay safe online? Here are helpful tips to practice:

  • Sharing passwords or phrases only hurts the user. Keep this information private and do not share it with co-workers or colleagues.

  • For your protection, do not write passwords down on small pieces of paper or tape them to your computer. Also, remember to change your passwords regularly.

  • Think about using a pass phrase instead of a password. Substitute similar symbols for characters. !luVf!s^ = I love fish.

  • Access to “free” wireless networks is easy and convenient to use. However, be careful and only use encrypted wireless networks as they offer higher levels of protection.

  • Avoid “free” downloads for screensavers, surveys or online club registrations as they can include hidden spyware programs.

  • Reboot your computer at least once a month.

  • Research shows that email attachments remain the primary means by which worms and viruses propagate. Opening attachments from unknown sources is not smart. 

  • If you receive an email asking for your account credentials (account name and password), delete it immediately. By responding, you can easily put your identity in jeopardy and may become a victim of identity theft.

To learn more about staying safe online or to learn more about what BIT is doing to protect the availability, confidentiality and integrity of South Dakota’s data and resources, please visit http://cybersecurity.sd.gov/. 

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