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Each October since 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance have joined together to mark National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The importance of this month only continues to increase as the internet has become more and more intertwined with our day-to-day lives, thereby increasing the number of cybercrimes committed. This month provides an opportunity to review the way you're safeguarding the information you store online in both your personal and professional lives.

Increase Awareness of Risks to Improve Cybersecurity

Most of us are using multiple devices each day to access the internet, from cell phones, computers, and tablets to even some appliances. As our number of internet-accessing devices increases, our need for cyber protection also rises. Using the internet safely and correctly can help protect your home and personal assets. To increase the safeguards around your personal data, implement some of these recommended actions:

  • Frequently back up your files to a safely stored external hard drive.
  • Set your computer to automatically update software.
  • Run periodic virus scans and use a firewall to prevent computer intrusions.
  • Scan all devices, including flash drives, for malware and viruses on a regular basis.

Know When and Where You're Connected

Spending time online often means accepting some risk related to the sharing of personal information, but you can take steps to secure your data and avoid sharing personal information for safer online activities. Shopping with secure payment methods like credit cards and using hard-to-guess, unique passwords for each website are two measures that can decrease the likelihood of fraud. Also, consider disabling Bluetooth or Wi-Fi when you're shopping outside of the home, as some stores look for activated devices to track shoppers' movements.

Protect Your Money

Both debit and credit cards are vulnerable to fraud. While most of us are familiar with the fraud protection features of credit cards, you should also take advantage of any offered protections on your debit card. Since they are directly linked to your bank account, cybercriminals can use debit cards to gain access to your cash. By signing up for debit card alerts you can receive a text, email, or phone call if your bank detects potentially fraudulent activity related to your debit card. And if you suspect that your credit card is lost or stolen, use KeyBank’s lock/unlock feature to temporarily lock your credit card. Find out what other steps your bank is taking to increase cybersecurity and learn how you can take action to safeguard your accounts.

Conduct a Personal Cyber-Safety Audit

Cybersecurity Awareness Month is also a great time to audit the overall security of your personal and financial accounts. In addition to reviewing the protection on your home computer, you should also take steps off-line to spot any potential fraud. Devise an annual checklist of personal security tasks to be tackled. The list can include:

  • Check your credit report and look for unfamiliar accounts.
  • Take a detailed look at monthly bank and credit card statements. Sign up for mobile banking so you can stay on top of your finances easily. Review all account information, including all transactions for signs of fraud.
  • Consider the physical security of the devices that contain your personal data security. For example, don't leave valuables such as a laptop or wallet in a car or other unmonitored location.

One of the key messages of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is: Stop. Think. Connect. As part of your regular diligence to protect yourself online, simply taking a minute to consider the safety of your actions before you click on an unfamiliar link or open an email attachment from an unknown sender can help limit the spread of cybercrimes.

This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual tax or financial advice. KeyBank does not provide legal advice.

By selecting any external link on, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend, or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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