October 18, 2023

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Four Steps to Protect Yourself Against Cyberattacks

City of Virginia Beach Emergency Management and Information Technology departments recognize the importance of cybersecurity.

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October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, dedicated to raising awareness about sound cybersecurity practices for individuals and organizations. Emergency Management and Information Technology are collaborating to get the message out on how to become more resilient to cyberattacks.

Protect Yourself Against Cyberattacks

Your personal computers, smartphones and other internet-connected devices are susceptible to cyberattacks. Malware, phishing and ransomware are becoming increasingly common forms of attack and can affect individuals and large organizations, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Here are four simple steps everyone can take to stay safe online.

  1. Use Strong Passwords and a Password Manager
    Using strong passwords is critical to protecting your data. They should be long, random, unique and include all four character types (uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols). Password managers are a powerful tool to help you create strong passwords for each of your accounts. Plus, they make storing passwords and user IDs easy.
  2. Turn On Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
    You need more than a strong password to protect your online data. Using multifactor authentication can make you much more secure and significantly less likely to get hacked. Multifactor authentication (MFA) requires you to present a combination of two or more credentials in order to verify your identity for login. Enable multifactor authentication on all your online accounts that offer it—especially email, social media and financial accounts. Use authentication apps or hardware tokens for added security.
  3. Recognize & Report Phishing
    Be cautious of unsolicited emails, texts or calls asking for personal information. Phishing emails, texts and calls are the number one way data gets compromised. Never share sensitive information or credentials over the phone or email unless necessary, and you have verified the authenticity of requests by contacting the individual or organization through a trusted channel. Don’t open attachments or click on links sent from unknown sources. Learn to recognize the signs of phishing and report these incidents to protect data and devices.
  4. Update Software
    Always make sure your software is up to date. That is the best way to ensure you have the latest security patches and updates on your devices. Keep all operating systems, antivirus software, web browsers and applications up to date.

If you believe you’ve been a victim and your data has been compromised, FEMA provides several tips you can take during and after a cyberattack. Learn more about what you can do at Ready.gov/cybersecurity.

The Emergency Management team promotes a comprehensive emergency management program to mitigate Virginia Beach's impacts from man-made, natural or technological disasters. Learn more at VirginiaBeach.gov/ReadyVB.

The Information Technology Department provides and supports technology solutions that enable the City to advance quality of life and public safety.

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