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For every year since 2003, October has been recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and in recognition of that, the College of Information Technology is delivering a series of blogs this month to help keep you and your information safe and secure. While both security software and trustworthy technology organizations are helpful, keeping your digital information safe really starts with you. There are a number of actions you should be taking to help secure your personal information and computers, and not many of them require expensive gadgets or an IT professional. Here are four easy actions you can take on your own today.

Update Your Software

Outdated software is one of the vulnerable areas on your computer because it is easier to manipulate. Keep your operating system and other core software up to date to make attacks less likely to succeed.

Use Antivirus and Firewall Software

Use antivirus software from a trusted provider. If you have not heard of the company before, do not use its product. Antivirus software works to keep viruses, malware, ransomware and so on from entering your computer or device and corrupting your data and files. Firewalls are also important in defending your data and files against attack by screening out viruses, hackers and other software that is malicious.

Pick Strong Passwords

Yes, it seems like there are at least a thousand passwords we all need to know and remember in order to connect to the services and data we use. However, strong passwords, unique to each site, are critical for keeping hackers out of our data and files. If you have trouble remembering all those passwords or coming up with strong ones on your own, find a password management tool that will help you organize, generate and recall those passwords with greater ease.

Backup Your Data Regularly

Keep a backup copy of all your important files and data on a separate storage device (external backup disk or hard drive). If your computer crashes or is stolen, at least the loss of data might only be the amount since the last backup.

Stay alert, stay informed…stay digitally safe! For more tips to keep your information safe during National Cyber Security Awareness Month and every month, head to the Information Technology Department’s Security page.

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