Simple Steps to Stay Cybersecure

Electric cooperatives are committed to safety, which includes taking steps to protect both our physical facilities and online environments from unauthorized intrusions. At a time when we are more virtually connected than ever, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated. Luckily, there are actions you can take to mitigate risk and stay one step ahead of malefactors.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Watch out for social engineering. Social engineering manipulates the emotions of victims so they will take an action to breach security. Cybercriminals may use social engineering to trick targets into giving up usernames and passwords, installing malware on devices, sending money or authorizing malicious software or apps. Be especially wary of urgent or unexpected requests.
  • Click with caution. Hold your cursor over links in an email to view their full address before clicking, even if it seems like the email was sent by someone you know. If the link looks suspicious, contact the sender to verify the link before clicking. When in doubt, play it safe and delete it.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication adds a necessary second check to verify your identity when logging into accounts. This authentication helps protect your accounts from being compromised, even if a bad actor hijacks your password. This additional protection also makes it more difficult for password cracking tools to enable attackers to break into accounts.
  • Use strong passphrases and a password manager. Use long, complex and unique passwords. Use a password manager to efficiently and securely keep track of those passwords.
  • Perform software updates. When a device prompts that it’s time to update the software, it may be tempting to simply click postpone, and ignore the message. However, having the latest security software, web browser and operating system on devices is one of the best defenses against online threats. So, don’t wait – update.
  • Do your research. Before downloading any new app on your device, make sure it’s authentic by checking who created the app, what the user reviews say and if there are any articles published online about the app’s privacy and security features.
  • Check your settings. Double check your privacy and security settings and be aware of who can access your documents. This extends from Google Docs, to Zoom and beyond. For meetings on Zoom, for example, create passwords so only those invited to the session can attend, and restrict who can share their screen or files with the rest of the attendees.

No single tip is foolproof, but taken together they can make a real difference in securing your online presence. By taking preventive measures and making a habit of practicing online safety, you can decrease your odds of being hacked and increase your digital security.