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BBB Tip of the Week: Emphasizing cybersecurity in October

By Tyler Russell BBB Northwest and Pacific

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month, which is aimed at raising the public’s awareness of the basic steps needed to stay safe online. Throughout the month, Better Business Bureau Northwest and Pacific will be releasing cybersafety tips and articles to help consumers and businesses stay vigilant.

Articles and a cybersecurity toolkit for small businesses and consumers can be found at www.BBB.org/BBBSecure and at www.bbb.org/cybersecurity.

BBB encourages online users to educate themselves about cybersecurity risks and offers the following tips to stay safe online:

Own your online presence. Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s OK to limit how and with whom you share information.

Get two steps ahead. Turn on two-step verification on accounts when available. This adds an extra layer of security to your account by requiring you to know more than just a password. This is typically a code that is sent to you after accessing your password-protected electronic device. This can also be a fingerprint or facial recognition.

Keep a clean machine. Technology companies such as Apple and Microsoft are constantly making safety updates. Keep all software on internet-connected devices – including PCs, smartphones and tablets – up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware.

Keep a lid on personal information. Information about your history or location has value. Think about who is seeing the information and how it is gathered by mobile apps or websites.

Think before you post. Take care when posting about yourself and others online. Consider who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future.

Better Business Bureau also has some tips for businesses to stay secure while operating in the online world:

Keep your email secure. Make sure that when you are creating passwords to use unique pass phrases and two-factor authentication. Do no use personal emails for company business, and instruct employees to not open suspicious content, even when they know the source. Also, make sure that your employees know how to use the spam filters on their company accounts – when in doubt, throw it out.

Restrict your file sharing. As a business, you should restrict the locations where sensitive information can be saved or copied. Make sure to use file names that don’t disclose the types of information that a file contains, and ensure that all your organization’s computers are equipped with the latest antivirus software and antispyware.

Be careful using USB drives. When using them, be sure to scan them and disable the auto-run function that allows drives to automatically open when they are inserted into a drive. The best practice is to keep sensitive information off USB drives.

Secure those websites. While websites do have a certain amount of security, keeping these practices in mind will save you time, money and frustration. Use scan tools to test your security. Many of them are free. Make sure to use a separate Wi-Fi for guests and secure your internet connection by using a firewall, encrypting information and hiding your Wi-Fi network. Also, prevent direct access to uploading of files to your website and turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not using your devices.Anyone who feels they may be a victim of a cybercrime should report it to local law enforcement and BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker.

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