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How to stay safe in cyberspace

October is the month to brush up on online safety as it marks the beginning of National Cyber Security Awareness month.

October is the month to brush up on online safety as it marks the beginning of National Cyber Security Awareness month.

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

At the core of today’s fast-paced world is the evolving cyber domain. Now, more than ever, Airmen use the Internet for personal pleasure and professional gain.

With information and entertainment easily accessible at a few taps of the fingertips, it is easy to fall prey to scammers and hackers if you lack cyber awareness. 

“As we discuss threats this National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we must remember the fundamental concept: a risk shared by one is a risk shared by all,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Darris Johnson, 19th Communications Squadron commander. “If we apply this concept to our physical homes, we realize leaving the door unlocked, losing keys, and inviting strangers into our home is the equivalent to leaving an unattended computer with the user logged in, losing passwords and authentication credentials, and responding to phishing emails or communicating with unknown entities, leaves us vulnerable.”

Online shopping, banking and even simply using social media can leave one vulnerable to online attacks if precautions aren’t taken. Ways to stay vigilant include:

  • Ensuring antivirus software and security patches are up-to-date

  • Hovering over suspicious links to check their validity

  • Strengthening passwords

  • Removing common access cards from computers

  • Encrypting emails

  • Configuring privacy settings on social media accounts

  • Securing cell phones with password protection

 

“Without using cyber security measures, all information is at risk 24/7,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Travis Taylor, 19 CS Wing Cybersecurity Office section chief. “Hackers are like deer, they take the easiest route through the woods. If security measures are in place, then they will most likely move on to find the easy target.”

Phishing, the practice of sending emails pretending to be from reputable companies to get personal information, is one the biggest cyber threats in Central Arkansas.

“I like to use a term called ‘clinking,’ which refers to a phishing tactic that requires everyone to click on a specific link,” Travis said. “Don’t click the link. These type of phishing attempts can hold any sort of malicious activity to run in your program’s background without you knowing to gain your information.”

Social engineering, when someone is attempting to persuade you to give your information verbally, and ransomware, when someone hacks your information and demands money, are some other methods hackers use.