Georgia Highlands College

Safeguard Your Data – and Your Quality of Life

October is Cyber Security Awareness month, and now is a good time to learn just how valuable that awareness and protection can be for personal data and peace of mind.  GHC goes to great lengths to protect the personal data of its students, faculty and staff, and to provide online experiences that are safe from phishing scams, viral attacks and theft of personal information.

Cybercrime is committed in a variety of forms – identity theft, stalking, bullying, hacking, financial fraud, email spoofing, information piracy and forgery, intellectual property crime and more.  These activities can become more than a major inconvenience.  They can lead to financial ruin, risk personal safety and negatively impact personal and professional reputations. 

Being careless about cyber security can affect others, too, especially when computers are networked, because viruses and malware will infect the entire network. 

You can minimize the chances that you’ll be targeted by following the National Cyber Security Alliance’s simple recommendations to safeguard your information.

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.
  • Automatic 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 and scan: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Protect Your Personal Information

  • Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you to verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
  • Make passwords long and strong: Research has shown that long passwords and passphrases are the most effective factor in keeping accounts and data secure.   
  • Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
  • Keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer, such as a secure password storage software like KeePass or 1Password.
  • 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 who you share information with.

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 are 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.

Be Web Wise

  • 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. Encourage them to be Web wise.
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implore you to act immediately, offer something that sounds too good to be true or ask 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.

Be a Good Online Citizen

  • Safer for me, more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
  • Post only about others as you would have them post about you. And remember, what you post online stays there forever, so think before posting about whether a potential employer or your mother would react negatively to its content. 
  • Help the authorities fight cyber crime: Report stolen finances or identities and other cybercrime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center and to your local law enforcement, state attorney general and campus police as appropriate.

© 2018 Georgia Highlands College