Happy Cybersecurity Month! Hug a Silver Hat!

cover-for-simple-cybersecurity8x13Did you know that it is cybersecurity month?  I know it does not get the publicity that other “special months” or “special days” do but it is no less important.  Cyber affects every person in the US and the World.  Did you know that there are over 3.4 BILLION people on-line in the world? Or that the continent of Africa has increased their online presence by 8000% (www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users)?   Cyber currently has reign over our health care, our infrastructure (that’s right – electrical grid, water purification, even our entertainment), and our daily commute.  It is a shame that we only have one month devoted to this very important part of our lives, and even that month is barely mentioned!

So, what are you all doing to celebrate this month?  Are you making any travel plans, or maybe taking a day off of work?   Well, here are some suggestions to help commemorate this important aspect of our daily living:

  • Change your passwords – now!

There have been so many breaches that it does not harm you to change your passwords on your accounts that could disrupt your lives like your online bank accounts, online insurance accounts, online health care accounts, Social Security online accounts, and any other accounts that you need to use.  Do you have one master password that controls all these accounts?   Then you should be changing this at least once a month, if not more.  People ask me what a good password contains and I have done research on this (as well as written one of the first children’s books on this subject – GRANPAPPY TURTLE TALKS ABOUT PASSWORDS, available at http://www.lulu.com – sorry about the shameless plug) and can tell you that some of the best passwords are long, complex, and memorable.  But the bottom line is to remember this:  LONGER IS STRONGER.  Make your passwords long using random words (like BOIL and FRAME), along with some numbers and special characters and voila you have a pretty strong password.

  • Check your router

Does that sound strange?  Everyone that has access to the internet has a router (you know that box that the cable company or phone company rents to you?).  This router has a default setting for both the USERID and password (especially for those that you buy yourself).  It is usually on the bottom of the router or on a plastic card that can be removed from the case of the router and the USERID is normally ADMIN with the password being 12345 or PASSWORD or (Heavens!) NO PASSWORD!  Change this password and USERID whenever you can, but do so as soon as possible.  Make it a strong password (see above).

  • Know your surroundings!

This is probably the most important suggestion.  When I was in the military I was walking down a hallway and there was a person coming the other way with his head down – he almost ran into me.

“Be careful there.”  I warned.

“Oops, sorry about that,” the other service member said, “I know where I have been, and I know where I am going, I just want to know where I am.”

Although somewhat funny, this story has real value today.  We used to walk with our “head in the clouds.”  Now we walk with our “hands on our phones.”  We are oblivious to our surroundings or who is in front or behind us.  We need to lift our heads and become more aware.  In addition, get a “privacy screen” for your laptop and your phone.  These are usually less than 50 dollars for a laptop and prevent people from “shoulder surfing” to get information.  Also, get a virtual private network (VPN) for use on your phone and your laptop or other device when you are out of your home and using local WI-FI.  These WI-FI connections are NOT secure and so present a real threat to those who use them.  I am waiting for someone to get hacked at one of these public sites and litigating because they were not secure.  But that is another story for another day.

Let’s review.

First, change your passwords.  Make them strong and one that you can remember (it can be done).

Second, check your routers at home to ensure they are secure.

Third, ensure you know where you are and what you are doing.

And TRY to enjoy the month.  There are tons of articles out there that research everything from cell phone vulnerabilities to making strong passwords.  Don’t like to read?  Plenty of YouTube videos for you to review.  Want a place to start?  See my SIX MINUTES FOR SILVERHATS series on my YouTube Channel – GRECTECH (the one with the black and gray logo).  If you have any suggestions, please contact me through my web site http://www.grectech.com or http://www.silverhats.org.  Happy computing!

Learn, Offer, Value, Educate


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