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It’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Simple things can help keep your online information more safe and secure. (GrapeStock/iStockPhoto.com)
Simple things can help keep your online information more safe and secure. (GrapeStock/iStockPhoto.com)
October 17, 2016

MADISON, Wis. – Few things are as frustrating as discovering that someone has stolen the password to one of your online accounts - costing you money, time or damage to your reputation.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, and Frank Frassetto with the Wisconsin Division of Consumer Protection has suggested several easy steps that can improve your safety online. He said most people know it's important to change passwords regularly, but few actually do it. One password is particularly important.

"Make sure that your email password is the most robust, because that tends to be the starting point,” Frassetto said. "The thief gets hold of your email password, and that can lead them into all sorts of other accounts that you might have."

Frassetto suggests combining capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password. He said this should be done frequently and that email passwords should differ from any other password you might use online. Many other tips are available at readywisconsin.wi.gov.

One of the best security tips, according to Frassetto, is to keep your personal information personal. Never give out personal or banking information on an unsolicited call or in response to an unsolicited email.

"If you are getting requests for sharing or validating personal information,” he said. "you need to step back and think about that and ask why is this coming in and why are these people asking for this information."

Even with the best equipment, Frassetto said, you are one hard-drive crash one theft or malware attack away from losing your sensitive documents and valuable photos, music and video files.

"It could be decades worth of material that a hacker could have access to and could lock down, so you definitely want to make sure that you're backing up your data,” he said. "You can either do it on a physical drive or to cloud-based storage. And if you're using an external hard drive, make sure that you disconnect it after you back it up."

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI