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October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month - Learn How to Protect Yourself, Your Family, and Devices9/24/2018

At Sandia Area, we’re committed to your online security. Part of our commitment to you includes providing you with the information and resources you need in order to protect yourself against cybercrimes. Each and every one of us needs to do our part to make sure our online lives are kept safe and secure. In light of Cybersecurity Awareness month, here are some valuable tips on how you can protect yourself, your family and your devices.

Spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail. Here are some ways to reduce spam:

  • Enable your email provider’s filters – almost all internet service providers and email providers have some kind of spam filters in place. But be careful, depending on the level you set, you may end up blocking emails you want. It’s a good idea to check your junk folder every now and then to ensure filters are functioning the way they should be.
  • Report Spam – If you receive a spam email, mark the email or report instances of spam to your email provider. Reporting spam will help prevent the messages from being delivered to your inbox.
  • Be selective about what you post online – Consider hiding your email address from online profiles and social networking sites. Only allow certain people (whom you trust) to view your personal information.

Phishing attacks use email or malicious sites (clicking on a link) to collect personal and financial information. Phishing attacks can even infect your machine with malware and viruses. Here are some ways you can avoid becoming a victim:

  • Don’t reveal personal or financial information in an email. And never respond to an email soliciting this information. This also includes clicking on any links provided in such an email.
  • Check the security of the website before entering sensitive information online, such as name, address, date of birth, social security number, etc. How do you know if a website is secure? If a website is secure, the address bar will contain a padlock just before the URL. You can also check the website’s SSL certificate. If the URL begins with “https” instead of “http” it means the site is secured using an SSL certificate (the s stands for secure).
  • Keep a clean machine. Keep all software on Internet connected devices – including PC’s, smartphones and tablets up-to-date to reduce risk of infection from malware.

Online shopping has only grown in popularity over the years, as the convenience of making a purchase from wherever you are and the availability next – day shipping make our busy lives that much easier. But while there’s no doubt that the increased availability of online shopping is convenient, it also opens the door for scammers to trick buyers into paying for goods they won’t receive or obtain their personal information for financial gain in the process. Here’s what you can do about it:

  • Do your research. Perhaps you found something online at a price that can’t be beat. If you’re using that particular website for the first time, make sure you read reviews to see if other consumers have had a positive or negative experience with the site.
  • Protect your personal information like cash. When making a purchase online, pay close attention to the kind of information the site is attempting to collect from you. Ask yourself - is this information necessary to complete my transaction? And remember, you only need to fill out required fields at checkout (required fields are typically noted with a red asterisk).
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in emails, posts and texts are often how cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.
  • Read the fine print. Make sure you read the website’s return policies and other website information so you know what to expect if the purchase doesn’t go as planned.

For more cybersecurity tips, visit www.sandia.org/security. Another great resource is Stay Safe Online, powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance (www.staysafeonline.org).

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