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Boost your cyber-hygiene 

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month 

GOOD CYBER-HYGIENE should be practiced year-round, not just during October, which is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This year’s theme is See Yourself in Cyber, because we all have a part to play in cybersecurity. 

On their end, electric co-operatives are boosting cybersecurity by adding resiliency to the grid and defending it from cyberattacks. But as individuals, we can also fight back to safeguard our devices and data with some easy steps. 

Enable multifactor or two-step authentication to add extra steps when logging into an account to prove you’re really you, which greatly increases the security of the account. Extra steps could include a PIN or password; or emailed, texted or authentication-based apps for codes. 

Use strong passwords—long and unique. Microsoft recommends eight to 64 characters. Never reuse passwords for multiple accounts; and don’t use personal combinations like birthdays, names or phrases you like to use. Consider using a password manager from a reputable vendor to store passwords easily and securely in one place. 

Keep your software updated—it’s one of the easiest ways to keep your personal information secure on any device that connects to the internet. Set a reminder to check updates monthly, at a minimum, even if most companies provide automatic updates and send update reminders. Be aware that some cyber criminals will send fake updates; these typically appear as a pop-up window when visiting a website. 

Don’t go phishing 

Recognize and report email or texting phishing attacks. Phishing is a form of electronic fraud aimed at stealing personal information such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, user IDs and passwords. 

The signs of a phishing attack can be subtle, so thoroughly inspect emails and texts, and above all, do not open any suspect attachments or click on any embedded links. Most phishing messages include offers that are too good to be true, an urgent or alarming tone, misspellings and poorly crafted language, ambiguous greetings, strange requests or an email address that doesn’t match the company it’s coming from. It’s not unusual for emails to include a logo to create the appearance of legitimacy, or even to come from the email address of someone that appears to be a close friend or co-worker. 

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