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Protecting Your Personal Security

Every year, the National Cybersecurity Alliance and CYBSAFE release a report on Cybersecurity Attitudes and Behaviors. In the 2022 study, 88 percent of participants said they are either connected ‘all the time’ or go online ‘a few times per day.’ As a result, people of all generations are using more technology than ever. To help our university community stay cyber safe, below you will find several topics that may be of help in your personal life. For additional tips, visit Securing Your Personal Computer.

Internet of Things (IoT) Devices

Our current environment is flooded with internet-connected devices - your computer, your cell phone, your smart watch, and anything in between. With the growing number of internet-connected devices, such as smart fridges and smart lightbulbs, the opportunities for bad actors increases. Three quick and easy things you can do as it relates to these types of devices are as follows:

  • Know your devices. Take stock of what IoT devices you have in your home. Each will have different security settings available. Knowing the scope of your devices will ensure that you are able to update them all properly.
  • Update your devices regularly. Check all your devices for updates and patch the system regularly. One of the major points of vulnerability for IoT devices are unpatched systems. 
  • Check your GPS and microphone settings. Many IoT devices use GPS and voice controls. With anything that has access to your location or records your voice, this can be a cause for concern. Double check these settings to ensure that you understand what permissions you are giving each device.

Using Password Managers

With an ever-increasing landscape of online accounts, the average internet user might have over a hundred accounts. It can be tempting to re-use account credentials or make simple, easy-to-remember passwords. However, this can expose your account to attackers. Instead, using a password manager can keep your credentials secured in a central location for ease of use.

Spotting Phishing Messages

It's nearly impossible to exist online without an email address. Given the sheer amount of emails we receive daily, it is inevitable that phishing emails will find their way into our inboxes.

Using Secure Wi-Fi

Whether you're traveling or working from your local coffee shop, almost anywhere you go, you can connect to free wireless internet. Not all Wi-Fi is created equal, however. Ensuring safe connections can help to protect your data.

Vacation Travel

Traveling and vacation are a time for rest and relaxation. The last thing you want to worry about is technology during your trip. The National Cybersecurity Alliance has several recommendations for staying safe while traveling.

Social Media Guidance

Many of us are very active on social media, whether that's sharing pictures on Instagram or connecting with classmates via Facebook. However, we risk giving away personal and sensitive information on public profile pages, which could be leveraged by bad actors.

  • Be careful what you share online. Bad actors can gain insight on travel plans, home location, and children by viewing social media accounts. Social media surveys commonly contain questions that are the answer to security questions on sensitive accounts.
  • Check your settings. All social media sites have a security section within their settings, which empower you to make decisions about what access the applications have on your device, and who is able to view and interact with your profile.
  • Understand application permissions. All mobile applications gather some level of data from your device. This could be as innocuous as access to the internet, or as invasive as location tracking and biometrics. Your Application Permissions menu shows what permissions you have allowed for each application on your device. You may also want to read the terms and conditions agreement for an application before you install it on your phone. The National Cybersecurity Alliance shares a list of best practices for adjusting your security settings.
  • Learn more. The National Cybersecurity Alliance shares many guidelines about using social media safely.

Online Shopping

Online shopping is a wonderful modern convenience, but its ease of use does come with risks. The National Cybersecurity Alliance provides information about staying aware and safe while shopping online.

Keeping Kids Safe Online

Decisions about navigating internet use is a very personal and individual decision for families. While choices should ultimately reflect what works best for your family, below are some things to consider when navigating internet use:

  • Educate. Modeling good behaviors around your family is vital to creating a culture of cybersecurity. Talk to your child about using password managers, and what should and shouldn't be shared online. Good password practices, such as creating unique passwords and never sharing login credentials are additional topics that can be shared. If your child uses email or text messaging, you may also want to discuss how to identify malicious emails and text messages that they might receive. This open dialogue can lead to better understanding of what knowledge gaps might exist in your family's digital presence.
  • Limit usage. Setting up expectations around how often devices can be used, and at what times of day, can be useful in establishing healthy relationships to devices. In addition to when to use devices, ensure that you talk to your kids about appropriate usage based on your family’s expectations.
    • Position your device in the open. When determining where devices may be used, it can be useful to think about the visibility of screens, in order to keep an eye on things.
  • Set up parental controls. Most devices have the ability to set parental controls which limit access to certain materials or elements of a device. This will vary depending on the device - check the device user manual for guidance. It is a good idea to create a separate user account on devices for your child, with parental controls enabled.

Keeping Seniors Safe Online

Older relatives and loved ones are at a higher risk of identity theft and are often the target of phishing scams. Educating elders on what to look for when using email and social media can help them to be alert when it comes to spam.