6 minutes reading time
OCT 2 2023

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: What is it anyway?

The short and sweet version? Cybersecurity Awareness Month is all about sharing the ins and outs of digital security and empowering people like you to make smarter decisions when it comes to how you protect personal data while living life online. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the event. And while, at dundle Magazine, always aim to practice good habits when it comes to cybersecurity, we know well there are always ways to improve and protect ourselves. Ones that we are here to share with you as well so that this Cybersecurity Month, we can do our part in spreading awareness.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity refers to the steps individuals and organizations can take to prevent theft, damage to devices and unauthorised access to personal information. So here we are to will help you detect and ultimately help prevent falling for phishing (to be explained later), among other things. Cybersecurity Awareness Month draws attention to these issues, with government and businesses business joining forces to empower individuals to learn good practices when it comes to life online.

Why protect your personal data?

“But I’ve never been scammed or experienced fraud,” you may be saying to yourself. But this article is still very much for you. Because it is better to care before it is too late and protect yourself from the complications that could be around most corners of the internet. Scammers are tricky. Phishing, for example, is a pervasive technique that can be really hard to spot. According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2022, data breaches caused by phishing cost victims $4.91 million on average. And, quite frankly, we don’t want this to happen to you. So what can you do to combat cybercrime?

Multi-Factor Authentication - helping you stay safe online

A-what-now? Multi-Factor Authentication sounds wordy and scary but it is a really easy concept. All an authentication factor is, is a way of confirming your identity when signing into an account. Usernames and passwords are examples of one factor. Traditionally, a username and password have protected your online information, however, they no longer offer you excellent protection against cybercrime. A username can be pretty easy to guess; sometimes, it is just your email address. When it comes to passwords, we often use simple passwords that are easy to remember and/or the same password for multiple different logins. If a hacker gets a hold of this information, they have the keys to the kingdom.

With, MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication), you can protect yourself with added layers of security, making it more difficult for hackers to get access to your information. The extra verification checks are a safety measure that is simple to set up, and will give you peace of mind knowing your information has an added layer of security. Examples of factors include:

  • An extra PIN.

  • The answer to a security question.

  • An additional code is emailed to an account or texted to a linked mobile number.

  • A unique number generated by an Authenticator App.

A golden number padlock placed on a white keyboard with two gold credit cards on the right, slightly out of shot.

Why it’s smart to have a strong password

Strong vs. weak passwords, let’s get into it. Well, it really is you who benefits from strengthening your passwords. As your first line of defense against hackers, it's a wall that you don’t want them to breach. You wouldn’t hand the keys to your house to a burglar, so why do it with cybercriminals with easy-to-guess passwords? According to the Data Breach Investigations Report, 63% of data breaches used compromised credentials. To avoid your credentials being compromised, you want your password to be irontight. With little effort, you can be proactive and simply create stronger, unique passwords for all of your accounts.

Even people who often change their password and think they are practicing good cyber hygiene are, in fact, not. Contrary to some cybersecurity experts and popular belief, the National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends that we should not change our passwords regularly. If you want some tips on how to create a strong password, we have got you covered!

How do password managers work?

How will I remember all these different passwords, I hear you ask? Well, that’s what password managers are here for and they will be your new best friend. Works just like an app that automatically stores your passwords, like your very own password vault. Wondering which password manager to use, why not check out these recommendations for password managers? The National Security Alliance has compiled a list of free-to-use/paid password managers that you can choose from. Many of the paid password manager services offer trial periods, so why not grab one and see just how safe and easy to use they are?

3 different colored credit cards on a keyboard are being hooked away by a fishing hook.

What is phishing?

Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails, text messages, phone calls, or designing websites to trick users into downloading malware, sharing sensitive of personal information to expose themselves, or their organizations to cybercrime. Examples of sensitive information include:

  • Social Security number

  • Credit card number

  • Bank account number

  • Login credentials

What makes phishing so difficult to spot?

Well thanks to IBM’s phishing breakdown we can get familiar with the different types of phishing, but generally speaking, phishing is so difficult to spot because Cybercriminals go to great lengths to make phishing emails and other attempts appear legitimate. With phishing emails for example, you can typically expect the following:

  • Impersonated sender’s logo in the email

  • mask the ‘from’ email address to include impersonated sender’s domain name

  • Using ‘rnicrosoft.com’ instead of ‘microsoft.com’ - to appear real at a glance

Other phishing attempts are made through SMS phishing. The most effective of these schemes are related to smartphone account management or apps. For example, recipients may receive a text message offering a gift as 'thanks' for paying a wireless bill, or asking them to update their credit card information in order to continue using a streaming media service.

How to Recognise and Report Phishing

While phishing can be subtle, recognising it will help prevent you from falling for it. Some common phishing signs are emails with;

  • Misspellings or grammar mistakes.

  • Language that’s urgent, alarming or threatening.

  • Unusual formatting.

  • Requests to send personal information.

  • Sent by a public email domain address, such as @gmail.com or @hotmail.com.

If you notice any of these, DELETE the email. Want to take your protection further, block the sending address. More information on Recognizing and reporting phishing can prevent you from serious security breaches down the road.

Stay safe to Pay Smarter, Play Harder

At dundle, we sell gift cards, gaming cards and prepaid payment cards, so you can pay and play online without having to link your credit card or bank account information. Meaning, you don’t have to share any unnecessary personal information when paying online. Because, prepaid is the smarter way to pay for your subscription, game, gift, or phone credit. We are committed to helping you stay safer online. To honour that commitment, we will be posting a number of articles about how you can be safe online with dundle for Cybersecurity Month 2023. So, if you liked this article, keep an eye out for more articles like this touching on different aspects of cybersecurity this month!

Optimised 2/10/2023

Ryan Kinlough
Written by Ryan Kinlough