Cybersecurity risks are at an all-time high, with hackers constantly working to gain access to accounts, systems, personal information, data and more.
If successful, they will steal your identity, power down systems, or hold your data hostage—costing potentially millions of dollars and inflicting long-term damage on your credit or data.
Recent events in Louisiana have prompted the state and all municipalities to enhance and expand efforts to protect against cyber threats, including a series of ransomware attacks on local public sector agencies that prompted Gov. John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency.
The Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness and Department of Information Services are actively working to stay “Red Stick Ready” when it comes to protecting against potential cyber threats, and it’s important that citizens adopt the same mentality. See below for some helpful tips to keep your accounts, devices, and digital lives safe and secure.
Keep your mobile devices safe and secure.
In a world where we are constantly connected, cybersecurity cannot be limited to the home or office. Always ensure your devices have the latest software and operating systems installed, lock your device when you’re not using it, disable auto-connect features for WiFi and Bluetooth access, and never leave your equipment – including any USB or external storage devices – unattended in a public place.
Use social media to connect with people you trust.
More than 3 billion people worldwide now use social media – this includes your friends and family, but also people who are looking to use these platforms to steal information and hack your accounts. Remember to set your accounts’ privacy and security settings to your comfort level, disable automatic geotagging of your posts, and be careful about the information you post online (as well as people who want to be a part of your network) – any information you post about yourself can be used against you, even if it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal at the time.
Beware of Phishing.
In south Louisiana, we love fishing – but here at the City-Parish, we hate phishing. Phishing attacks use email or websites to infect your machine with viruses in order to collect personal and financial information. Phishing emails may appear to come from a real financial institution, a government agency like ours, or a seemingly legitimate business or friend of yours. The email may request personal information such as account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers. If you receive an email that seems “phishy”, it probably is – check the email address of the sender to confirm it’s one that you know, be cautious of generic greetings like “Hello Bank Customer”, and avoid clicking links you don’t recognize.
Protect against cyber threats.
If you’re reading this, that means you’re on social media and your online identity and information may be at risk. Cybercriminals are very good at getting personal information from unsuspecting victims, and their methods are getting more sophisticated as technology evolves. Protect against cyber threats by learning about security features available on the equipment and software you use. Apply additional layers of security to your devices to better protect your personal information, and ALWAYS confirm the identity of anyone who is asking for your personal information online.
Think before you act.
Hackers and criminals will pretend to be someone you know, including your co-workers, to get your log-in or personal information. If an email looks suspicious, there’s a good chance it is – confirm the email address is correct, contact the sender by calling them or sending a new email to confirm the legitimacy of a request, and be wary of clicking links in an email that seems suspicious or is from someone you don’t know.
Remember – when it comes to cybersecurity, you can OWN IT by understanding and keeping important information private or secure through our digital profiles, SECURE IT by creating strong passwords and not clicking links to sites you don’t recognize, and PROTECT IT by remembering that every click, share, send, and post you make creates a digital trail that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
Stay safe out there (and on here), Baton Rouge! For more information and other helpful cybersecurity tips, visit:
cybersecurity holiday tips
NEW DEVICES, SAME SECURITY RISKS
If you’re in the market for a new phone, tablet, computer, smart speaker, or other gadget this holiday season, it’s important to remember that while the device may be new, the cybersecurity risks are not. Any device that connects to the internet is potentially vulnerable and could become compromised.
Check out these helpful tips from the Center for Internet Security to follow if you find yourself the owner of a shiny new device this holiday season, or anytime.
Change Default Passwords
Some devices are configured with default passwords to simplify their setup. But these passwords can easily be found online – when you are setting up your device, be sure to change the default password to one that is strong and unique for each device or account.
Secure your Wi-Fi Network
Your wireless router is the primary way for cybercriminals to access your connected devices. Be sure to use Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3), which is the strongest form of encryption for Wi-Fi.
Disable Location Services
Location services can allow anyone to see where you are at any given time. Additionally, most mobile devices are equipped with wireless technologies like Bluetooth that can be used to connect to other devices or computers. Consider disabling these features when not in use.
Safeguard Against Eavesdropping
Disconnect digital assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home devices, and cover cameras on toys and laptops when they are not in use.
For more information and more helpful tips for setting up your new device safely and securely, click here.