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Celebrate Computer Security Day; protect your computer, watch for phishy emails

It's Computer Security Day and Cyber Monday, the perfect day to take steps to protect your computer and be on the lookout for phishy emails.

To protect your computer when you’re shopping or doing business online, Johnson County Department of Technology and Innovation recommends you:

  • Use the longest password or passphrase permissible.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you.
  • Keep your operating systems, web browsers and software updated to the latest version available. Turn on automatic updates and set your security software to run regular scans.
  • Limit what information you post on social media. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers and passwords private, as well as specific information about yourself, such as your full name, address and birthday.
  • Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved. Check your app permissions and delete what you don’t need or no longer use.
  • Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities that require passwords or credit cards.

Phishing attacks use email or malicious websites to infect your machine with malware and viruses in order to collect personal and financial information. Cybercriminals attempt to lure users to click on a link or open an attachment that infects their computers, creating vulnerability to attacks. Phishing emails may appear to come from a real financial institution, ecommerce site, government agency, or any other service, business, or individual. The email may also request personal information. When users respond with the information or click on a link, attackers use it to access users’ accounts.

Here are some ways to protect yourself from phishing emails:

  • Play hard to get with strangers. Links in email and online posts are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If you’re unsure who an email is from — even if the details appear accurate — do not respond, and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email.
  • Think before you act. Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately.
  • Protect your personal information. If people contacting you have key details from your life, they can attempt a direct spear-phishing attack on you.

For more information about how to stay safe online and what to do if you think you've been the victim of a cyberattack, visit jocogov.org/cybersecurity.

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