Celebrate Cyber Security Awareness Month

Author: Kolin Hodgson

Halloween isn’t the only reason to celebrate in October! It’s also the time of year to take part in Cyber Security Awareness Month.

There are many steps to incorporate into your daily routine to ensure the safety of Notre Dame’s data as well as your personal information. In honor of this year’s theme, “Do Your Part. BeCyberSmart,” take a closer look at these best practices for basic online security.

Create strong passwords: A weak password that is easy to guess is one way cyber-criminals can take control of your devices and systems. Such an attack may result in data loss and a negative impact on your finances and/or reputation.

Strength, integrity, and confidentiality should all be considered when choosing a new password. Use these password guidelines:

  • Passwords should be a minimum of 16 characters
  • Avoid using names, predictable phrases, birthdays or number sequences that can be easily guessed 
  • Use a different password with each account you create
  • Keep your passwords private—they should not be written down or shared with others
  • Consider using a convenient Password Manager tool to safely manage your passwords. More information about Password Manager tools is available in this wired.com article.

Use multi-factor or two-step authentication for personal accounts: Enabling this security feature requires entering two different factors to confirm your identity when logging into personal accounts. It offers added security and protection.

The first factor will be something you know like a password or PIN number. The second factor will be something you have like a code sent to your cell phone, or a personal identifier such as your fingerprints or other biometric information.

Notre Dame services require two-step authentication via Okta, and many of your personal accounts offer it as well.

By combining the use of strong passwords and two-step authentication, it becomes more difficult for cyber-criminals to access personal account information.

Enable automatic updates: The operating systems of devices that connect to the Internet like computers, televisions, cameras, or tablets need to be updated on a regular basis. 

At the time of production, some devices may contain flaws in the operating system that are not discovered until after being released for sale. Manufacturers will provide updates for the operating system to amend these flaws.

Regularly updating these devices prevents cyber-criminals from accessing private information stored on these devices. The best way to keep your devices updated is to turn on the Automatic Update feature.

Throughout the month of October, watch for more cybersecurity tips, on OIT's Twitter feed and Facebook page. These posts will feature tips on topics from phishing scams to sharing safely on social media. #BeCyberSmart

Learn how to protect yourself, your family and your devices with more tips and resources during Cyber Security Awareness month at staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online.