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Cybersecurity: A Bear of a Problem

Byline: Tom Buckley You might’ve heard about the story of the two hikers and the bear; if not here's a quick rundown.Two hikers are walking through the woods and come across an angry bear, one hiker sits down, opens his backpack, changes into a pair of running shoes, and start’s to stretch. The other hiker says “you aren’t going to try to outrun the bear, are you?” The first hiker says “No, I’m going to outrun you.” The point being made is that when you know you can’t avoid the threat, try to be the least vulnerable.


With relation to Cybersecurity, the bears, (a metaphor for hackers and cyber criminals) are always going to be out there and they’re always going to be looking for the weakest link, or the slowest runner. When it comes to your online security habits, are you the faster hiker or the slower one?


Now that we’re in October, fall is already in full swing and it’s coming close to the time when everyone begins their holiday shopping, of which most will certainly be online since we have yet to reach the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping that in mind, and with cyberattacks starting to take trend in the news cycle, it's important now more than ever to make sure that you minimize your vulnerability.


Not only does October mark the beginning of the fall season, October is also Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a joint initiative between the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) (part of the US Department of Homeland Security) and the National Cyber Security Alliance with the purpose of raising awareness about the importance of Cybersecurity and ensuring that all Americans have the resources that they need in order to be as safe online.


This year’s theme for Cybersecurity Awareness Month is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.” which encourages individuals and organizations to take responsibility in protecting their own “part of cyberspace” by taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity.


When taking measures to protect themselves online, most Americans just do the bare minimum, leaving them vulnerable to an attack. But thinking about your own online security, you want to make sure you have all of your bases covered, the harder you make it for a cybercriminal to attack you, the less of a target you will be for a cybercrime.


How can you make yourself less vulnerable to cyberthreats? You’ll find a list of best practices below that make for a good start, but we also encourage you to take a look at some of the resources offered (linked below) by the CISA and the National Cyber Security Alliance and take further steps to strengthen your online security practices.



Online security best practices

The following list includes other best practices to use which are simple and self explainable.

  • Make sure that all of your passwords are complex and contain at least 8 characters, using Uppercase and lowercase letters along with numbers and special characters

  • Look out for common indicators of a phishing attack; these include misspellings or grammar mistakes, unusual or weird formatting, or language that creates a sense of urgency or pressure to click a link or download an attachment

  • Update software as soon as updates become available; these updates may include fixes for vulnerabilities that were found in the software

  • Frequently make backups all of your data

  • Update the security and privacy settings and change default passwords whenever you purchase and start to use a new connected device

  • Refrain from accessing important and sensitive accounts while connected to public wifi

  • Don’t overshare on social media; often times when people overshare, hackers are able collect enough information about the individual to impersonate them over the phone, or even get the answers to their security questions

  • Check the security and privacy settings of all of your software and applications

  • Before downloading new software do some research on the software and it’s source to make sure the software is not malicious



Resource Links

Cybersecurity Awareness Month Homepage - Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Cybersecurity Awareness Month Homepage - National Cyber Security Alliance


Cybersecurity Awareness Month Resources - Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Resources library - National Cyber Security Alliance

Online Safety Basics - National Cyber Security Alliance


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