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5 cybersecurity safety tips

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Access to the internet has changed the way businesses and their customers interact. The convenience and speed of transactions, access to personal, financial and business accounts and the availability of information have made the internet indispensable for modern businesses and everyday life.

But, with the internet's increased speed and convenience can come new threats and potential risks. Businesses such as Athene have implemented strong controls to ensure interactions with our customers and business partners are secure. However, the business side is only half of the equation.

Every year, the number of data breaches in the U.S. continues to increase, and according to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 378 cyber attacks affecting over 85,000,000 people in the first quarter of 2023. 

To better protect yourself, it’s recommended to adopt an “assume breach” mentality, which means thinking about cyber attacks in the sense of when they will happen, not if they will happen. And since up to 90 percent of data breaches happen due to human error, there are steps you can take to strengthen your defense strategy and keep your personal information safe.

Here are several recommendations and tips from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency on how to protect yourself on the internet. 

1. Update your software

Keep the software on your computer, phone and other digital devices up to date. Outdated software — including your operating system, web browsers and apps — makes it easier for criminals to break into your devices. Most software can update automatically, so verify yours is set to do so.

2. Make your password long, and use passphrases to help make them memorable

Keeping track of all the passwords used day to day can be difficult, but it's an important part of keeping your information safe. Here are a few tips for creating and managing passwords:

  • Think strong and long: Cybersecurity experts recommend passphrases or passwords containing at least 16 characters. For example, a passphrase could be console-shrubbery-bronchial-various-caterpillar.
  • Try to be unpredictable: Don't use names, dates or common words that are associated with your personal identity.
  • Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts: If stolen, thieves can use your password to take over all your accounts.
  • Don't share passwords on the phone, in texts or by email: Legitimate companies will not ask you for your password.
  • Manage your passwords: If they're written down, lock them up. You can also choose a reputable password manager, just make sure to select a highly rated solution that meets your needs and supports your preferred operating system.

3. Use multifactor authentication when available

This requires both your password and an additional piece of information such as a code sent to your phone or a random number generated by an app or token. The use of multifactor authentication helps reduce the risk of phishing, spear phishing and other serious cyber attacks.

4. Back up your files

Because no system is completely secure, it is important to perform a periodic file backup. Copy your files to an external hard drive or cloud storage, so if your computer is attacked by malware, you can still have access to your files.

5. Protect your personal information

Your Social Security number, credit card numbers and bank and utility account numbers can be used to steal your money or open new accounts in your name. If your personal information is stolen, consider placing a security freeze on your credit report with the major credit reporting agencies. It's free and can provide an effective defense.

Remember, you always have a right to ask questions or request additional verification before you share your information with anyone. If you do not feel comfortable with the situation, listen to your instincts and wait until you feel confident that it is a reputable business or organization. 

By maintaining a vigilant posture over what you can control, you can help protect yourself from the impact of data loss or theft, whether the cyber attacks are targeted at you or someone else. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency publishes more tips and guidelines to help consumers stay safe online.

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