Our world has become dominated by technology. It is hard to imagine doing much of anything without a computer, tablet, or smartphone. By and large, it has made things easier for all of us, but it has also created some additional risks. October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and we have a special guest today to talk about how you can protect yourself.
About Magna 5 and Matt Kimpel
Magna5 is a managed IT services firm that works with businesses like Commonwealth to provide ongoing support and assistance to make sure your information is protected. Matt has been in this industry for 16 years and is currently the Vice President of Information Security and the head of Cybersecurity and Compliance services.
How Magna5 Helps Commonwealth With Cybersecurity
Magna5 is the vendor Commonwealth selected to help keep your personal data safe and secure. Magna 5 provides continuous monitoring of our systems and utilizes a variety of tools to help prevent a data breach. They also provide help-desk services for those of us who aren't as computer-savvy.
One of the most important ways you can protect your own personal information is to use strong and unique passwords. To create a strong password, you should use a combination of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. That means a password might look like :)Chi358&gHHiZ. Passwords or passphrases should also be 12 to 16 characters long which will make it even more difficult for hackers to solve. An encrypted 12-character password meeting the above criteria would take over 600 years to crack. Passwords should also be unique. The more you use the same password, the easier it is for criminals to hack into your system.
Frustrations with remembering passwords
This is a common theme among all technology users. The more complex we make our passwords, the more trouble we have remembering them. To make it easier, use an encrypted password manager. (Encrypted is a key part of this). A couple of reputable examples of password managers are
These solutions not only encrypt your passwords for those key personal sites, they also have the ability to add multifactor authentication as an added layer of security.
WIth a password manager, you have to remember one password to have access to all of the ones with the numbers and squiggly characters in them.
Should you let your browser or phone manage your password?
Apple and Google have improved their services in this area. Apple has the Apple keychain which offers an encrypted solution. Google's password vault also offers encryption. But sometimes it is just more secure to have a separate solution to protect your information.
Encryption is the key thing. Without an encrypted list, hackers can run computer scripts to download all of the passwords stored on your computer.
What is multifactor authentication?
Think of multifactor authentication this way: something you know, something you have, something you are.
- Something you know - This is your master password that you use to access all of the other passwords for those important sites.
- Something you have - This could be something like getting a text message on your cellphone to verify your identity, a random number generator on an app, or a Yubikey.
- Something you are - This could be a fingerprint or facial recognition to verify your identity.
Multifactor identification makes it even more difficult to hack into your passwords
This is not a quiet day at the lake with a rod and reel trying to land that elusive largemouth bass. It is a term used to describe attempts by people to get to your personal information. These scams often come from email, texting, phone calls, or pop-ups on a website. They tend to look somewhat legitimate with a quick glance, but they can cost you dearly if you fall for the trap.
A common tactic of phishing attempts is to prey on your fears and place a lot of pressure on you to do something quickly. The most important advice to be offered here is to simply slow down. Verify who you are connecting with, tell the person who is trying to get your information you will call them back. If you aren't sure about who you are speaking with, do not share any personal information with them.
Review your bank accounts and credit reports. Some people suggest putting a freeze on your credit, so if anyone tries to take out a loan in your name you will be contacted and they will be stopped.
Remember entities like the IRS or Social Security Administration will not call you - they send you letters, via snail mail!
Any time you aren't sure about the person contacting you, reach out to someone you trust to help you verify things. If you think you have been hacked, please notify our office as soon as possible.
Commonwealth Financial Services employs Magna5 to provide ongoing monitoring and security of our computer systems. They are separate entities and are not affiliated with each other.