Are You Cyber Secure?

By: Katie Stukey Email
By: Katie Stukey Email
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Are you cyber secure? Many of us are making cyber mistakes and not realizing it.

Let's first talk about passwords. Most sites suggest 8-12 characters, a mix of numbers, letters and symbols, but we seem to have trouble following even that most basic guideline as 123456 was the most common password used last year followed by "password.”

UNO's Information Assurance Department wants us to rethink the whole idea of a password and instead go with “passphrase." This should be longer than 16 characters.

“Make it a sentence, include special characters in there, numbers, symbols and make it something you can remember,” says UNO Information Assurance associate professor Robin Gandhi. “And don't reuse passwords across sites. Keep a different password for every site and make it long and complex and strong."

Gandhi recommends using a password manager to keep all these various phrases straight. PC Magazine suggests using LastPass. It's free, but keep in mind your password to access the password manager should be the longest and most complex one of all and you'll have to memorize it.

One of the most common ways we're making ourselves vulnerable is through our Wi-Fi network. Every router is assigned a name called an SSID. We commonly call it something associated with our home or business, but the pros say that SSID should not be able to be traced to you at all and if you want to protect your network even more, take it a step further.

“Don't broadcast that SSID, then if anyone wants to log into your access point, they have to know it,” says Ken Dick with UNO Telecommunications Research. “Now with smart TVs and all of that, that does make it a lot more difficult, but it also makes it a lot more secure."

If you want to change your SSID and figure out how to hide it altogether, reach out to your Internet provider and it should walk you through it.

Kids are always excited about that next big game their friends are playing. You might not think twice about downloading it before asking, who made the game and is it a reputable company? The danger is these games can come with Additional Functionality, something like a keylogger. That means the game plays as it's supposed to play, but it might it might be tracking every keystroke and mouse movement.

“Then it becomes very easy for the game developer or the person who made the game to send this information over to, maybe steal your bank accounts or your sensitive details or any sensitive work you might do at that computer,” says Gandhi.

The solution? He says computers are cheap enough that it's worth investing in a second one. Have one reserved for work purposes, banking, taxes, etc., and one he calls the "sacrificial" computer” where you can play games and do anything that doesn't involve sensitive material so if this one is compromised or hacked, you're not in too much trouble.

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