Cybersecurity and You (Pt. 1)

I travel state-wide here in Texas and speak to as many people who will have me.  I try to keep my audiences diverse and open because cyber security affects everyone, even you.  Whether you’re a 25-year-old IT professional spending most of your life online or a retired grandmother with 15 grandchildren who may only use the internet once or twice a week, your life is somehow impacted by this ever-growing concern in our modern world.

In this short series of blogs, I am going to discuss several different and important ways that you can make some minor changes to make your digital life more secure.

Now, when I present to audiences, I love to give statistics so that people can see just how important it is to have good cybersecurity practices.  Some of the stats I give really shock people and while my goal is not to cause fear, it is to bring awareness to the criticality of the situation and then personalize it so they can see how it can potentially affect their lives.

We discuss the growing rate of internet usage and how just over 50% of the world now has internet access.  This growing environment not only increases available targets for the malicious people, it is giving the malicious people room to grow and recruit.  Below are some of the other current stats that I use:

  • 130 – Average number of online user accounts per person in the US
  • 91% – The percentage of malware infections that happen from PHISHING
  • Asia has the most internet users at nearly 1.9 Billion but that is only 45% of their population
  • North America has 320 Million users and makes up 88% of our population

Passwords:
We usually discuss password hygiene and security as it is such a huge part of our overall security as a society.  I even explain to them the trends that are growing in password hacking technology such as pattern recognition.  Those malicious parties now look for common password patterns such as:

  • All numbers in the password being together (i.e. “hereismypassword1234”)
  • The most common used special character is the “!” and it is usually at the end. (i.e. “hereismypassword1234!”)
  • When a capital letter is required people just usually make it the first letter of the password.

Here are some recommended adjustments that while minor will still help take the security of your passwords to the next level.  Essentially make adjustments to your existing passwords around the few things I mentioned above.

  • Start your password with a lower case letter or special character
  • Mix up your numbers
  • Place capitals at random
  • Substitute some letters with numbers

Example:
“h3re1sMyp@ssw0rd”

Internet access exists all over the world and let’s face it, it’s not going to lessen anytime soon.  Anyone reading this blog most likely has plenty of online presence including at least 10 user names and passwords online.   Hopefully, the above information has been helpful to you and will be a good starting place in you having a better understanding of cyber security and how you can flex some of your own security muscle in your digital life.

Keep watching here.  Next time I will discuss some specific threats to your digital life and how you can protect against them.

Stay connected.  Stay Safe!

Austin Bynum
Chief Watchman
Cyber Watchtower

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