Q. October is Cyber Security Month. Data security is important on both a personal and corporate level. Is there new information available regarding cyber security?
A. According to Pew Research Center, nearly 95 percent of Americans are on a mobile device of some sort — a cell phone, tablet or laptop. Among 18- to 29-year-olds, that number is an amazing 100 percent! These devices connect you easily with your family, friends and business associates. They contain lots of info about you and your contacts; Locations, photos, videos, and even health and financial data. It's very important to use your mobile device safely.
The National Cyber Security Alliance, in conjunction with the Anti-Phishing Working Group and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has put together the STOP. THINK. CONNECT campaign.
The campaign is designed to help you practice good online safety habits. The first step is to stop, to make sure security measures are in place. Think about the consequences of your actions and behaviors online. Connect means to enjoy your devices with more peace of mind.
Value and protect your information
According to www.stopthinkconnect.com, you should consider your personal information just like money. Value it! Protect it! Here are their tips to help you do just that:
» Secure your devices using strong passwords or touch ID features to lock the device. These security measures help protect your information if your device is lost or stolen.
» Think before you use an app; important information about you, such as the games you play, your contacts list, where you shop and your location, has great value, just like money. When thinking about using an app, consider who gets that information and how it is collected through the app.
» Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when not in use. Some stores and other locations look for devices that have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within their range.
» Be smart about Wi-Fi hotspots. Most public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure. This means anyone could potentially see what you're doing on your mobile device while connected. Limit what you do on a public Wi-Fi, and avoid logging into important accounts like email and financial services while on these networks. Consider using a personal/mobile hotspot or a virtual private network for a more secure connection.
Make sure you use a clean machine
» Your mobile devices are just as vulnerable as your PC. Make sure to have the most up-to-date security software, web browsers, operating systems and apps. This will give you the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
» When you're done, delete! According to the website, many of us download apps for very specific purposes, such as planning a vacation. We often no longer need them afterwards, or they are no longer interesting to us. You can increase the security of your device by deleting all the apps you no longer use.
Nearly two-thirds of the American public have heard, read or seen something about online safety and security issues recently. Most of it is negative: identity theft, privacy loss and an increasing level of data attacks. When asked why they don't always do all the things they can or should do to stay safer online, 28 percent of Americans say they simply lacked the information or knowledge? Only 12 percent cited safety measures as being too expensive, and only 5 percent of Americans said they were too busy to take the extra step.
Be a good citizen, and protect your community by being safer online. Taking action is not only important to yourself, but your families and business associates as well.
Visit www.bbb.org to view additional consumer tips on data security and privacy.
Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.