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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > October 2022 > Seven simple steps to be more secure in cyberspace

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Seven simple steps to be more secure in cyberspace

In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself in cyberspace. Celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month by learning seven simple and practical steps to increase your security online when using smartphones, tablets, notebook computers and other internet-connected devices.
1. Activate multifactor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA – available on many of your online accounts, apps and programs – requires you to verify your identity in addition to reciting your password, usually by sending a code to your mobile device. The National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) says that, according to Microsoft, “MFA is 99.9 percent effective in preventing breaches.” The company says MFA is a must for individuals looking to secure their devices and accounts.
2. Enable automatic updates. Ohioans should ensure that their online devices have the latest updates to operating systems, internet browsers and anti-virus programs. Activating automatic updates whenever offered can save you from having to remember to regularly check for updates to these critical programs on your devices. For example, updates on mobile phones may address bugs and security flaws that the operating system has identified.
3. Use a password manager and regularly change your passwords. The NCA says that “having unique, long and complex passwords is one of the best ways to immediately boost your cybersecurity.” But its own report, conducted with CybSafe, found that only 43% of the public always or very often uses sufficiently strong passwords. Although many people find it difficult to remember their passwords, a reputable and secure password manager can help you perform these tasks. With a password manager, you typically have to remember only your master password.
4. Use secured Wi-Fi. Never use free, public Wi-Fi to perform any tasks that require a password or other personal identifying information. This includes online banking, product purchases and other financial transactions. When you do need to enter personal identifying information on a website, be sure the website is secure. How can you tell? Look at the address bar in your internet browser; secure sites typically begin with https:// (The “s” stands for secure). Depending on the browser, the address bar may turn green or show a padlock to indicate that you’re doing business on a secure website.
5. Use firewalls and anti-virus software on all devices. Your wireless router essentially should act as a basic firewall, which helps keep potential hackers out of your home Wi-Fi network. Ensure that all devices connected to your home Wi-Fi have anti-virus software installed and that it is up to date. The most up-to-date security software, web browsers and operating systems are the best defense against online threats such as viruses and malware, according to the NCA.
6. Be alert to phishing attempts. According to the NCA, scammers phishing for personal information make up 80 percent of all cybersecurity incidents. Phishing occurs when someone impersonates a legitimate person, business or organization to try to trick victims into revealing private data, typically by luring them to click on a malicious link that leads to a phony website.  
7. Back up your data. No one can be certain that home Wi-Fi security is 100% effective, so users need to back up their most important information by either storing it in the “cloud” or copying it onto external hardware, such USB storage sticks or portable hard drives. Information stored with cloud storage services – think Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive – is maintained on servers accessed over the internet.
For more information about the National Cybersecurity Alliance, visit its website at For cybersecurity tips from the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section, click here.