Think Before U Click: A guide to help you do your part

September 09, 2022

In the recent past, we all got a refresher on the importance of hygiene to stay safe from germs. Now let's brush up on cyber hygiene — basic steps we can take to stay safe in a connected world. 

October is the 10th annual Cybersecurity Awareness Month (a series of events that remind us to be cybersmart all year long. Cybersecurity Awareness Month is brought to you by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) which is partnering with the Commission and Member States

The 2022 theme: “Think Before U Click.” Want to join in? Use the #ThinkB4UClick hashtag on social media to raise awareness and show your friends and followers that you think before you click.

Practice cyber hygiene

Think Before U Click starts with cyber hygiene. What is cyber hygiene? Think of it as the cybersecurity version of washing your hands well with soap for 20 seconds after you come home from a trip to the store. 

Cyber hygiene is a set of basic habits that can help to keep you and your family protected from identity theft, scams, and other online dangers.

Examples of practicing good cyber hygiene include using strong passwords, setting up multi-factor authentication on your accounts, and regularly updating software on your devices.

The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity offers a short list of cyber hygiene tips that will help you get familiar with cyber hygiene best practices.

Fight the phish

Cybercriminals often go "phishing" for private information, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made this digital plague even worse. That's why it's important to know how to spot phishing attempts and report them to authorities. There are three main steps to follow:

Step 1: Spot phishing

Start by keeping an eye out for odd or unexpected messages via chat, email, text, or other channels of communication.

Any time you get a message from an unknown sender that asks you to take an action, consider it a red flag. Even if the message seems to come from a trusted sender, stop and look more closely.

Some phishing messages are disguised to look like they come from a real company, like PayPal or Netflix. Here are a few things to watch out for.

  • Generic greetings like "Hello dear" or "Hi friend."      
  • Reports of a "problem with your account" that require action.    
  • A request to click on a link or attachment.

Step 2: Stop and look

Don't click any links in these messages, and don't open or download any file attachments.

These links or attachments may contain adware, malware or spyware that can infect your device and even allow hackers to gain access to your account passwords and other private information.

Or a link may lead you to a page where a scammer is trying to grab your private information or "sell" you something to get your credit card number.

Step 3: Report phishing

Take a few minutes to alert businesses and government agencies to any phishing attempt you experience.

Reporting phishing can help officials learn about new scams and pursue cybercriminals to stop them from victimizing others in the future.

  • Cyber First Aid. The first aid map provided by the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity shows you with one click on your country who you can contact in order to report a cybercrime and get help.     
  • The company. If a phishing email is disguised to look like it came from a real business, alert that business. Most large companies have a dedicated email you can use to report phishing scams. If you can't find the information on their website, contact customer service to ask how to report phishing.

Following these three steps can keep you safe from many phishing attacks and can help you "do your part" to put a stop to phishing.

Put cybersecurity first

Once you've learned the basics of cybersecurity and how to #ThinkB4UClick, there's one important step left: Put cybersecurity first. 

What does it mean to put cybersecurity first? For individuals and families, it means making cybersecurity a priority in your daily life. Just like learning to wash your hands the right way — think singing the happy birthday song while you suds up — cybersecurity may require some practice.

What does putting cybersecurity first look like in daily life? It means you think about cybersecurity all the time and make it a major part of your life.

If you prioritize cybersecurity, it's likely you will remember to do these things.  

  • Avoid using public Wi-Fi.    
  • Back up your devices regularly.
  • Consider security and privacy when posting on social media.
  • Protect your devices and connected objects in multiple ways.
  • Research new apps and software before downloading.
  • Shop securely online and avoid shady sites.
  • Never click links that don't come from a trusted source.
  • Teach your kids, if you have them, about cybersecurity.

Just like when you're working to build other habits, it may be helpful to use tools and  reminders to help you put cybersecurity first. For example, think of using a screensaver that reminds you to #ThinkB4UClick every time you look at your device. 

After all, cybersecurity should not be an afterthought."

6 cybersecurity tips

Ready to do your part? Here are some Cybersecurity Awareness Month tips to help you take further steps to protect yourself and your family.

1. Get trusted security software

Make sure you have trusted security software installed on all your devices. At its most  basic, a security suite should include antivirus and other types of protection to help  protect against adware, malware, spyware, and other cybersecurity threats. 

2. Do regular updates

It's important to perform updates on your security software as well as all other apps and software on your devices. Frequent software updates help fix cybersecurity "loopholes" attackers can exploit. When possible, set up automatic updates on your device. 

3. Consider the IoT

You may think of your smartphone and your computer when you think about protecting your devices. But as our lives become more connected, the list of "devices" we have around us grows. So walk around your home and make a list of connected devices you need to protect, from your baby monitor to your smart doorbell to that doggie cam you bought to see what Barkley does while you're out.

4. Get a password manager

It's hard to overstate the importance of using strong, long, difficult-to-crack passwords and passphrases. Many people have 100 or more passwords, so this can be difficult to do. That’s a reason to consider using a reputable password manager application that can generate, store, and automatically fill strong passwords when you go to log into an account.

5. Use a virtual private network (VPN)

A VPN can be a useful tool to help you stay cybersecure, especially if you travel or work remotely from airports, coffee shops, or other public spaces. A VPN creates an encrypted "tunnel" that encrypts the data you send and receive. It helps protect your internet activity even when you're using public Wi-Fi. Some security suites come with a VPN included in the package.

6. Stay on top of scams

Cybercriminals and identity thieves exploit big events and disasters, such as the pandemic, and are always coming up with new ways to steal information and money. Keeping on top of scams can help you spot phishing attempts and other suspicious activity.

By being in the know, you may be able to alert your family and friends about new scams and avoid becoming a victim.

Follow these cybersecurity tips in October and all year long to help keep you, your  family, and your community safer. And don't forget to use the #ThinkB4UClick hashtag  to raise awareness and get your community onboard.

Just like with public health, when each person does their part, it helps to keep everyone safe.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

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