National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is an annual opportunity for folks like us to encourage folks like you to adopt a simple, three-point approach to keeping yourself and your information safe online:
STOP. THINK. CONNECT?
As weird as it might seem, there are physical aspects to securing information about you: Before your data are stolen or corrupted, there’s a need to keep track of devices and media containing information about you and your life. After someone acquires your data, there’s the possibility it could be used against you in the real world (online banking theft, physical robbery, extortion, and, in extreme cases, physical violence).
We encourage you to STOP before leaving your laptop or phone behind in a public area during trips to the restroom; before tossing your class schedule into the recycle bin unshredded; before posting information about your physical location, upcoming vacation (OK to post afterwards!), or financial habits.
Then THINK about the possible implications of this action; whether the links in that email or text message point to an official UVM website; whether you even have an account with that bank; whether Facebook is really likely to have forgotten how to use spell-check.
Finally, CONNECT with your surroundings, both virtual and physical: Is this a safe place to leave my laptop? Does this website seem sketchy?
A tiny pause can mean the difference between an enjoyable experience and a messy situation. It may seem like a lot to ask, but while we can’t claim this will make you invulnerable, it won’t be long before you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
Sam Hooker, for the Information Security Operations Team