The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, warns consumers to be prepared for disruptive cyber activity because of recently observed foreign influence operations. CISA is the nation’s defense agency that works to help Americans and U.S. organizations prepare for, respond to and mitigate the impact of cyber-attacks.
CISA warns us that as information technology continues to flourish and grow in capability and interconnectivity, cyber disruptions become increasingly frequent and destructive. They are a fast-growing area of crime, and more criminals are using the internet to commit a variety of criminal activities. These types of crimes can cause serious harm and pose a real threat to victims worldwide.
Every individual can take simple steps to improve their cyber hygiene and protect themselves online. CISA urges everyone to practice the following best practices:
- Implement multi-factor authentication on your accounts. A password is just not enough to keep you safe online anymore. Multi-factor authentication can make you 99% less likely to get hacked. Consider adding another layer of identification, such as: a confirmation text message or email; or a fingerprint or Face ID. This is a good idea for email, social media, online shopping, financial services accounts, as well as gaming and streaming entertainment services.
- Update your software. In fact, turn on automatic updates. Make sure you update the operating systems on your mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Also don’t forget to update your applications including web browsers on all your devices, too.
- Don’t click first—think first! Many cyber-attacks begin with a phishing email that prompts you to reveal your passwords, social security number, credit card numbers or other sensitive information. If scammers get that information—all bets are off for you. Crooks can use it on legitimate sites, run malicious software (malware). If you see a link you don’t recognize or trust…don’t click.