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Cyber Security Awareness Month

October 9, 2012
The Daily News

In cooperation with Wisconsin Emergency Management and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has announced that October is Cyber Security Awareness Month in Wisconsin.

"The internet's an incredibly valuable tool but also a potentially dangerous one," Attorney General Van Hollen said. "Whether it's protecting our children from online predators or protecting our identities from fraudsters and scammers, we need to be aware and educated. That's why I encourage every Wisconsinite to spend a few moments reviewing some of these easy to follow safety tips to ensure they, and their children, don't fall victim to those looking to do us harm."

ReadyWisconsin at Wisconsin Emergency Management has assembled tips for computer users and users of mobile devices.

Some of the tips include:

Keep a clean machine.

- Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

- Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that's an available option.

- Protect all devices that connect to the internet: Along with computers, smart phones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.

- Plug & scan: "USBs" and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Connect with care.

- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.

- Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.

- Protect your money: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with "https://" or "shttp://", which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. "Http://" is not secure.

Protect your personal information

- Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online. Check trusted websites for the latest information, and share with friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.

- Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.

- Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.

- Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.

- Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that's stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.

- Own your online presence: When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It's OK to limit how and with whom you share information.

- Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or asks for personal information.

- Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.

- Secure your phone: Use a strong passcode to lock your phone.

- Think before you app: Review the privacy policy and understanding what data (location, access to your social networks) on your device an app can access before you download it.

- Only give your mobile number out to people you know and trust and never give anyone else's number out without their permission.

- Learn how to disable the geotagging feature on your phone at

- Know how to cell block others. Using caller ID, you can block all incoming calls or block individual names and numbers.

- Use caution when meeting face-to-face with someone who you only "know" through text messaging. Even though texting is often the next step after online chatting, that does not mean that it is safer.

- When in doubt, don't respond. Fraudulent texting, calling and voicemails are on the rise. Just like email, requests for personal information or to immediate action are almost always a scam.

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