Do Your Part #BeCyberSmart

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. With consumers spending increasing amounts of time on the internet, they are faced with more opportunities for information leaks than ever. But internet connections aren’t limited to just smartphones, computers and routers.

Cars, appliances, fitness trackers and other wearables, lighting, healthcare, home security, and more all contain sensing devices that can talk to another machine and trigger other actions.

All these connected devices provide a level of convenience in our lives, but they require that we share more information than ever. The security of this information, and the security of these devices, is not always guaranteed. Once your device connects to the Internet, you and your device could potentially be vulnerable to all sorts of risks.

You can better secure your information with some simple tips:

  • Shake up your password protocol. Change your device’s factory security settings from the default password. This is one of the most critical steps to take in the protection of “Internet of Things” devices. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance, you should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Get creative and create a unique password for your devices. Don't use the same password for everything.

  • Know what questions your bank will never ask. Scammers may try to email, call or text you with an attempt to get private information like your account or card pin numbers or passwords. Your bank will never ask you for that information. Learn how to spot scams and suspicious questions from scammers pretending to be your bank or credit card company by visiting www.banksneveraskthat.com.

  • Keep tabs on your apps. Many connected appliances, toys, and devices are supported by mobile applications. Your mobile device could be filled with apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved—gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and learn to just say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.

  • Properly secure the wireless network you use to connect Internet-enabled devices. Consider placing these devices on a separate and dedicated network. For more information on how you can secure your network, view the National Security Agency’s Cybersecurity Information page.

  • Follow safety protocols if you work from home. If you are in a telework or work from home (WFH) situation, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has a Telework Essentials Toolkit. This toolkit provides guidance for executives, IT professionals, and remote workers. You can download it here.

For more resources on how to improve your personal cybersecurity, follow the hashtag #BeCyberSmart on social media and visit and visit the CISA website.