Cyber security awareness tips for you and your family

Safer Internet Day is happening worldwide on February 9, 2021. On this day organizations, schools, governments, community groups, and leaders put a priority on raising awareness of the importance of online safety.

Now, more than ever with children and teens using remote learning, the increase in video calls between family members, and more seniors using the internet to socialize and connect with family – the need for security awareness is heightened.

Cyber security risks are not confined to the workplace – everyone who uses email, social media, text messaging, online banking and shopping, streams entertainment, and browses the internet is at risk.

As cyber security professionals, we feel very strongly about the importance of Safer Internet Day. We are committed to giving you the tools, knowledge, and strategies that can keep your organization, family members, friends, and extended network protected from cyber threats and attacks.

If there is one message we want to communicate on Safer Internet Day, it’s the theme of this global effort: Together For A Better Internet. As a CISO or security leader, you know the cyber security of your organization is directly linked to the security awareness of your colleagues – people are your first line of defense.

The same holds true away from the office. Your family’s cyber security is tied to the cyber security awareness of your children, spouse/partner, parents, friends, and social network. As you know, cybercriminals don’t need much to bring down an organization or to steal from you personally.

We want cyber security to be at top of mind for everyone. We want children and teens to be cautious about text messages, social media chats, and emails from strangers. We want seniors to have the security awareness knowledge to think twice about responding to emails, text messages, and phone calls requesting personal information, password updates, or demanding immediate action.

It’s time to develop your own personal cyber heroes at home and away from the workplace. When we can do this, we know we are on the way to keeping everyone, including kids, teens, seniors, and your colleagues safe online.

How Security Awareness Training Helps Protect People from Cyber Attacks

The core principle of security awareness training is in making people aware of how cyber attacks happen. Once people can identify the threat, they can take action to protect themselves and your organization.

Safer Internet Day is the ideal opportunity to remind your colleagues of the tactics cybercriminals use to steal confidential professional and personal information:

  • Social Engineering: relies on the basic human instinct of trust to steal personal and corporate information, often via electronic means, that can be used to commit further cybercrimes.

Security Awareness Tip: know that cybercriminals try to catch people off-guard, for example during the holiday season or during uncertain times such as a global pandemic.

  • Phishing: uses deceptive emails, websites, and text messages to steal confidential personal and corporate information or deliver malicious software(malware) to a computer. Cybercriminals use stolen information to impersonate the victim.

Security Awareness Tip: do not respond to any unsolicited requests to update your password, confirm your credit card information, or to visit a website to confirm your account. Do not click links or download attachments in emails from unknown senders.

  • Business Email Compromise (BEC): uses spoofed or compromised email accounts of known or trusted entities to trick email recipients into providing company information, sending money, or sharing company innovations and technology.

Security Awareness Tip: because BEC relies on social engineering and winning your trust, it’s critical you carefully review the sender email address, URLs, social media links, and the way the message is communicated.

  • CEO Fraud: cybercriminals send emails impersonating the company CEO or other company executives, asking employees typically in HR or accounting to help them out by sending money or sharing confidential information. CEO fraud is a type of BEC.

Security Awareness Tip: because these emails use familiar yet urgent language and make it clear the recipient is doing the sender a big favor by helping them out, it’s critical you double-check the email address and think twice about performing the requested action. Validate the request with the sender via another communications means before you reply.

  • Spear Phishing: cybercriminals collect personal data about their targets and then send familiar and trustworthy emails, tricking the victim into thinking they know the sender.

Security Awareness Tip: always read every email you receive very carefully and always verify the email address (hover your mouse over the sender name to see the email address) – do not feel compelled or forced to respond to emails asking you to take action.

  • Ransomware: access to data on computer networks, mobile devices, and servers is locked until the victim pays a ransom. An extremely dangerous malware often delivered via phishing or an infected USB drive.

Security Awareness Tip: be aware of carefully worded emails urging you to open an email or download an attachment, doing so installs ransomware that can lock your computer and the network. Do not connect unfamiliar USB devices to your computers.

  • Smishing: uses manipulative text messages to steal confidential personal and corporate information from people.

Security Awareness Tip: be aware of text messages asking you confirm delivery of an Amazon order or to click a link to deposit a refund or to visit a website and finish registering for a new government program.

  • Vishing: uses phone calls to steal personal confidential information from victims. Cybercriminals leave urgent voice mails compelling victims to respond and act quickly.

Security Awareness Tip: remember your government, the police, tax department, or health officials will not call you or leave a voice mail asking you to call back and give up your private information.

  • Fake posts: on social networking sites from contacts or strangers, promoting breaking fake news or an exclusive, limited time discount, trying to convince you to click on a link or supply personal information.

Security Awareness Tip: remember that anyone can post anything they want on the internet. If you see suspicious messages on your profile or chat from your contacts, it may indicate that their account was compromised. Find another means to inform them.

  • Spoofing: a cybercriminal disguises themselves as another person, business, or entity in order to commit malicious acts. Tactics can include spoofed email addresses, websites, phone numbers, social network profiles and IP addresses, among many others.

Security Awareness Tip: because cybercriminals spoof email addresses, websites, and anyone or anything with an online presence, you need to be aware of unexpected messages from popular or well-known senders.

With knowledge, comes confidence and power – and this is exactly what security awareness training gives your colleagues, family, friends, and extended social network. The more people know about how cybercriminals harm victims, the easier it is to stop these crimes.


Share These Sections with your Employees on How Children, Teens, and Seniors Can Stay Safe Online

5 Questions that Can Help Keep Kids and Teens Safe from Online Hackers

You know the risks that come with being online – and we want to make sure your children and teens have the same cyber security awareness level as you.

Please make the time to talk about internet safety and security with your kids. And please share these internet safety tips with your friends and extended family.

  1. Why Did I Receive This Email?

It’s important you read your emails carefully. Pay attention to who the email came from and always question what the email is asking you to do and why. Is the sender asking you to click a link, watch a video, or to share your private Instagram account? Be suspicious of these types of request. Do not feel like you have to do what the email is asking or telling you to do.

  1. What Is This Direct Message Asking Me To Do?

Hackers like to pretend they are a famous person or brand and then send a direct message to you promising a prize if you click a link or download an attachment. This is a cyber scam. Just because you recognize the name, doesn’t mean it’s real. Block these fake senders so they cannot contact you again.

  1. When Should I Share My Personal Information?

You should never share your personal information online. Make sure your privacy settings are enabled, that your location is hidden, and do not post on social networks, in chats, or in emails about your plans. It’s very easy for a hacker to learn about you and then use this information to impersonate you online (and in real life).

  1. How Should I Respond To Meet-Up and Friend Requests?

Never ever meetup with someone who contacts you online. Criminals pretend to know you or pretend to be someone who they are not, in the hopes that you’ll meetup with them.

Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know. This is another way criminals try to trick and steal from you. Only accept friend requests from people you know in real life.

  1. Who Gets To See My Photos and Videos?

Do not send videos or photos to people you do not know. And be very cautious about sending photos or videos of yourself to people you know. Often, even people you know, and think are your friends will use your photos or videos to bully, embarrass, and shame you.

Use our free Cyber Security Hub to access a Parents Kit with cyber security resources for you and your kids.

5 Cyber Security Tips for Seniors

Please share these 5 cyber security tips with your parents and other seniors you know.

It’s super easy to be tricked by a cybercriminal, especially when the hacker uses advanced social engineering tactics to convince you to trust them. Whenever you’re on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or computer – please remember these 5 cyber security tips.

  1. Be aware of emails, texts, and voice mails asking you to share your personal information.

Cybercriminals pretend to be government officials or representing the health department in the hope you’ll give them details like your address, phone number, health insurance details, or credit card information. Remember the government, police, health officials, and tax department will never call, email, or text you and threaten you with jail time or fines. Call official numbers to validate any such requests.

  1. Do not be tricked by requests for money.

Your friends, family members, and charities should never contact you with an email or text message with an urgent request for help. These are hackers who are preying on your trust and willingness to help. Talk to them on the phone to validate their identity.

  1. Always create strong passwords and do not write them down.

It’s tempting to use the same password for all of your online accounts. However, if a criminal learns your password, they can access every single account linked to this password.

Create unique and strong passwords for your email, banking, smartphone, tablet, online shopping sites, social network accounts, and any other password-protected entities. Use passwords that contain a variety of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and other symbols.

  1. Always install operating system and application updates.

Software and application updates often include security patches designed to keep your data safe. Pay attention to notifications for updates and always install these updates. Make sure you’re using the latest software, operating system, and application versions.

If you are uncertain on how to do this, ask for someone to assist you.

  1. Read and listen very carefully.

Hackers like to prey on people during busy times like the holidays or to call you during the supper hour or to contact you during stressful times like a global pandemic. They know you’re busy and preoccupied and may not read the email or text message carefully or think critically about a voice mail. Slow down and always stay vigilant – a cyber-attack can happen to anyone at any time.



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Use the free Cyber Security Hub to access a Seniors Kit with cyber security resources for your parents and other seniors you know.