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Cybersecurity

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Data privacy is an ever-changing field, and governments across the United States (such as California and Maine) are enacting new laws and regulations to help safeguard American personal information in an increasingly digital society. Data Privacy Day is recognized internationally each year on January 28 to raise public awareness of online privacy issues and to promote data protection.

Indiana has not been immune to the emerging cybersecurity threats. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), more than 9,000 Hoosiers became victims of an online cyberattack during 2019. Cyberthreats are also a major threat for Indiana government and corporate organizations. In 2019, the LaPorte County government was forced to pay $132,000 to hackers after a ransomware cyberattack shut down part of the county's computer system. During that same year, Subaru was forced to shut down production at its Lafayette plant due to a cyberthreat.

As these attacks continue to become more commonplace and sophisticated, it is important that all Indiana families and businesses know how to identify and avoid these online threats. Hoosiers can learn more about cybersecurity and how to better protect their data privacy by reviewing the tips below and by visiting the Indiana Cybersecurity Hub.

Cybersecurity Tips

  • For Home
    people, bus, train, public transport, mobile phones,
    Passwords

    Passwords are keys to personal information and data. Having a strong password will help keep intruders out.

    • Passwords should be at least eight characters long and use combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation.
    • Never use the same username and password on multiple websites.
    • Never use personal information such as names, ages, birthdays or a pet’s name.
    • Avoid entering personal passwords on shared devices.
    Online Shopping

    Online shopping sales have steadily increased over the past decade and now make up more than 10 percent of total U.S. retail trade revenue, which means sensitive financial information is being transmitted and stored online more and more. Protect this information by following these tips.

    • Before purchasing an item, check the website for security and authentication notices.
    • Be aware of severely undervalued prices.
    • On auction sites, check the seller’s reputation, read reviews about the seller and thoroughly read the item’s description.
    • At checkout, use a secure payment method such as a debit or credit card.
    • Avoid shopping on a public computer or public Wi-Fi network.
    Online Communication

    Today, a lot of information is shared through forms of online communication. Practicing discretion will help keep this information in the right hands.

    • Never open, answer or follow tasks in emails sent from an unknown or unsolicited sender.
    • Never send personal or financial information to an unknown or unsolicited individual.
    • Do not download files or programs from an unknown company or source.
    • Change social media privacy settings so only trusted individuals can see posted information.
    • Limit the amount of personal information shared on social media.
    • Never share financial information, account information or passwords on social media.
    Devices

    According to the Pew Research Center, 96 percent of Americans own a cell phone, half own a tablet computer and about 75 percent own a desktop or laptop computer. These devices hold personal information, so protecting them from cybercriminals is important.

    • During travel, always keep laptops and mobile devices nearby or locked with a strong password, especially if they are not within reach.
    • Never answer calls or messages from unknown contacts.
    • Protect devices with strong passwords.
    • Encrypt all confidential or personal information.
    Software

    In addition to caution and strong passwords, software programs can also provide a layer of protection for devices. Research the programs and decide which one is the best fit for the household or business.

    • Back up important files to a flash drive or online cloud storage account.
    • Install anti-virus software that detects and removes viruses from electronic devices.
    • Keep device operating systems and security software up-to-date.
    • Install a firewall to block harmful material.
  • For Work
    iphone, passcode, desk, pen, numbers
    Do's

    A 2019 Accenture–Ponemon Institute study reported that there was a 67 percent increase in security breaches within organizations over the previous five years. Remembering to practice digital safety tips at work could prevent a company from having to spend millions of dollars to deal with the consequences of a cyberattack.

    • Understand common terminology about cybersecurity. A great way to prevent cyberattacks is understanding what they are and how they work.
    • Use passwords that are at least eight characters long and use combinations of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and punctuation. A strong password reduces the possibility of cybercriminals finding personal information.
    • Keep anti-virus programs up-to-date on all electronic devices. These programs can detect and remove possible cyberattacks.
    • Change social media privacy settings so only trusted individuals can view posts.
    • Regularly change passwords for every account.
    • Lock computers when leaving the desk or workstation. Leaving computers unlocked allows unauthorized individuals to access sensitive work-related information.
    • Verify the email sender before opening a message. The message may seem legitimate, but it could hold a virus.
    • Ask employers about available cybersecurity training courses.
    • During travel, always keep laptops and electronic devices nearby or locked with a strong password, especially if they are not within reach.
    Don’ts

    Avoiding a few common mistakes can make the workplace more secure and decrease the likelihood of a cyberattack.

    • Never use the same username and password on multiple websites. Using the same password can increase the chance of cybercriminals stealing information from multiple accounts.
    • Never use personal information like names, pet names or birthdates in passwords.
    • Never share passwords with others.
    • Never click on links or follow tasks in emails from unknown or unsolicited sources.
    • Never download images, documents or software from unknown or unsolicited sources.
    • Never share sensitive work-related information with unauthorized individuals.
    • Never keep computers on all the time.
  • For Schools, Businesses and Individuals

Resources

Cyber Crime (FBI)
Cybersecurity (Ready.gov)
Indiana Cybersecurity Hub (State of Indiana)
Online Safety (USA.gov)
STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Toolkit (Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency)

CyberStart America

CyberStart America is a free national program designed to provide high school students hands-on cybersecurity experience and prepare them for future opportunities in cyber career fields. The program centers on fun, thought-provoking games to inspire students to test their aptitude in various cybersecurity skills such as code breaking, ethical hacking and password cracking. High-scoring participants will also qualify for the National Cyber Scholarship Competition, a two-day challenge.

For more information on how to register for the CyberStart America program, visit cyberstartamerica.org.

CyberStart America logo

CyberStart America

CyberStart America logo

CyberStart America is a free national program designed to provide high school students hands-on cybersecurity experience and prepare them for future opportunities in cyber career fields. The program centers on fun, thought-provoking games to inspire students to test their aptitude in various cybersecurity skills such as code breaking, ethical hacking and password cracking. High-scoring participants will also qualify for the National Cyber Scholarship Competition, a two-day challenge.

For more information on how to register for the CyberStart America program, visit cyberstartamerica.org.