October 2023 marks the 20 anniversary of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Knowledge around protecting ourselves online has come a long way, but cyber criminals have become more savvy, as well. It is important that we all do our best to stay up to date with ways we can continue to protect ourselves and our personal information online.
Test your knowledge of cybersecurity with some quick and fun interactive quizzes from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Online Safety Basics
Learning the basics of online safety can go a long way in protecting your information. The National Cybersecurity Alliance has put together a top 10 tips list to stay safe online. The highlights are:
Use a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Get an extra layer of defense against hackers when you log in with MFA. It's like a text with a secret code that self-destructs after one use.
Use a strong password or better yet, a passphrase
Don't use the same password everywhere! Mix it up with letters, numbers, and symbols. The longer, the better, and passphrases can help. Here’s an example of a passphrase: I first went to Disneyland when I was 4 years old and it made me happy: I1stw2DLwIw4yrs&immH
Keep your software up-to-date
It reduces the risk of infection from software installed by hackers that can steal your information or spread viruses in your computer.
Use secure Wi-Fi
Public networks and hotspots are unsecured. Someone could see what you’re doing online. Limit what you do on public Wi-Fi and especially avoid logging in to key accounts like email and bank accounts.
Beware of phishing emails
Phishing is when cyber criminals try to steal information, like passwords, by pretending to be someone they’re not. They may send fake emails or messages trying to make you click on dangerous links or open harmful files. Most cyberattacks begin with phishing, so if an email seems weird, be careful, check who’s sent it and if their email matches who they say they are.
Think you spot a phishing scam? It can be harder than you think. Test your phishing radar with this quiz from Google.
Boost your memory with the power of repetition! Print this user-friendly online safety checklist, post it in a high-traffic spot like your fridge or desk. It's an easy way to make sure crucial information sticks.
Identity theft is when someone steals your personal information, like your Social Security number or credit card details, and pretends to be you. They often use this information to take your money, get loans in your name, or even commit crimes without getting caught. In addition to phishing, other types of identity theft crimes include:
- Healthcare theft: Using your information to get medical care or drugs, which can mess up your medical records and bills
- Tax theft: Filing fake tax returns with your information to steal your tax refunds
- Child identity theft: Stealing a child's information to impersonate them, spread misinformation, or for financial crimes like making unauthorized purchases
- Online theft: Stealing your online accounts, like your social media or email to impersonate you to spread lies and hurtful messages
How to Avoid Identity Theft
There are clear steps you can take to significantly reduce the chance of identity theft happening to you. Start with guarding your personal information: Keep your personal information, like your Social Security number and credit card details, safe and private with strong passwords, Multi-Factor Authentication, and monitor your credit reports for suspicious activity.
New York City Public Schools follow Federal and State laws and regulations that impose requirements to ensure students' personally identifiable information (PII) and certain staff PII (specifically, identifiable annual professional performance review data of principals, assistant principals and teachers) remain confidential and secure.
How to Report Identity Theft
Do you believe you are the victim of identity theft? If so, you can report the crime to the FTC for assistance in recovering and protecting your information.