MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, making sure everyone knows about all the threats that come with all of the benefits of using the internet. The theme for this year’s month is “Do your part. Be cyber smart,” stressing the importance of taking proactive steps to keep your information safe.
“We’re in an internet interconnected world, we’re not going back,” said Terry McGraw, a retired Army colonel, a cybersecurity expert, and president of PC Matic Federal, who believes the general public is not aware enough of some of the internet’s biggest threats.
“We’re just not doing it well enough,” McGraw said of public awareness, "and as a consequence, we’re falling victim to criminals that we shouldn’t be.”
According to McGraw, the COVID-19 pandemic has opened new doors for cyber security threats.
“I think that the quarantine and COVID just accelerated things that were already happening,” he said, and offered this advice:
“One of the simplest, most effective ways to ensure that you don’t become a random victim or necessarily an easy victim is multi-factor authentication. And by that I mean, a username and password and something else, whether it’s your fingerprint, whether it’s a one time password on your phone, whether it’s an authenticator app on your phone, something else that’s asynchronous, that validates that you are who you say you are.”
For parents of students who are learning virtually this school year, McGraw says there are ways to be proactive in protecting children’s information.
“The first thing is monitoring, monitoring, monitoring,” he advises. "I would recommend that you don’t log in with your adult credentials. I would actually set up a limited account for your kids, and use that child’s account to log in to the actual classroom, just to lower that, you know, any particular you know, reuse of your credentials. "
There are many resources and tools available to protect yourself and your information. You can find a list of some of them here: https://www.cisa.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month.
“YouTube is your friend,” McGraw adds. “I use YouTube, there’s a lot of very good people out there that provide a lot of very consumable, useful information about whatever topic you need in the realm of cyber security.”