Be Smart. Be Safe.

Resources for safety at home and at work. 

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Cyber Safety and Family

With the holiday season approaching, gifts for our family, young and old, are more and more tech-based. From smartphones to tablets, computers to console gaming systems, we have access to a world of people. More importantly, they have access to us, and our families.   

In the excitement of booting up on Christmas morning, we want to get to playing a game, or telling friends about new devices and quickly downloading all the new apps.  There are a few resources that are handy for keeping things secure for a new system or a new user.

Research - Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org) offers the largest database of ratings and reviews of apps, games, books, TV shows, websites, and music.  They also have blogs that address the challenges and possibilities of raising children in the digital age.

Password security
Every device that has access to either cellular networks or wi-fi (home or shared), password and PIN security are the first step in protecting yourself from hackers and automated password cracking software.  It may be tedious, but the steps below are much better than days or even weeks spent working to recover your stolen online identity.

  1. Lengthen your password. 
    In the past, 6-8 character passwords were sufficient, but now, experts say that 12-14 characters are the minimum for a secure password.

  2. Avoid public knowledge in a password. 
    Weak passwords include any information about you that is available on an internet through a search engine or social media. Maiden names, kids/pets names, obvious birthdays and anniversaries are all no-nos.

  3. Sentences are better than single words.
    If you have a sentence that you can remember well, you'll be significantly safer with your password than one that is in a dictionary, or a notable figure from history, etc.  Instead of "Ein$te1n", try a more obscure statement like "me$$yd3Sks=Gen1ous" and you'll have a memorable phrase, and more security.

  4. Email is the gateway - protect it! 
    Most username and passwords can be reset by sending an email to your account, so if your email password gets hacked, you're in more trouble, because from that point, all other accounts can be changed.

  5. Switch it up.
    People get comfortable with a set of passwords, but if you set a time when they all need to be changed, you can do it quickly. 

Keep up with ALL the sites - Keep spreadsheet or document that reminds you of your passwords without spelling out the actual password.  You can save it on a cloud based server if it is protected with a password, but keep a printout handy in case of hardware failure.  The printout also helps your family in case of emergency and they need to access your bills and online bill pay and other crucial site access.

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