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State officials urge residents to protect themselves from risks during Cybersecurity Awareness Month

What’s at least 16 characters long, includes four different kinds of keyboard characters, and is based on initials for a string of thought that only you would know? That’s a good password. Here’s an example: Your favorite song is One Headlight by the Wallflowers, and you got the CD for Christmas that year. The password could be 1He@dL!te1996Xma$.

With cyber threats on the rise, the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT), the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security (IEMA-OHS), and the Illinois State Police (ISP) are taking the lead in educating and equipping residents with essential knowledge to create a more secure online environment.

“Take a little time to create strong passwords to prevent hacking,” said Homeland Security Advisor to the Governor and IEMA-OHS Director, Alicia Tate-Nadeau. “Otherwise, you could spend hours and hours over months trying to fix your online profile and your personal accounts. As for the workplace, a vulnerable password could allow a bad actor to gain access to your employer’s records.”

How can I keep my data safe?

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  • Password protection is the single most important thing you can do to keep your data safe.
  • Use a unique password for each account.
  • Do not include your name, your kids’ names or pets’ names in any password.
  • Avoid using known information about you in your passwords.
  • Use a combination of upper and lowercase characters.
  • Keep your Internet browser and operating system up to date with the latest versions.
  • Be cautious about any online offers.
  • Monitor your online bank and credit accounts for unauthorized or suspicious spending.
  • Talk with your family about the importance of cybersecurity.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a technique used to get your personal information by email, websites or phone. Phishing is an attempt to dishonestly gather personal information from you or to install malicious software on your device.

To avoid becoming a victim of phishing:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
  • Delete emails asking for personal information and block the sender.
  • Do not visit websites that may attempt to install malicious software.
  • Never give personal information to anyone over the phone or online.

For more cybersecurity tips, visit www.ready.gov/cybersecurity.

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