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Are You Vulnerable Online? Get Tips from U.S. CERT

Cyberspace is woven into the fabric of our daily lives.  According to recent estimates, this global network of networks encompasses more than two billion people with at least 12 billion computers and devices, including global positioning systems, mobile phones, satellites, data routers, ordinary desktop computers, and industrial control computers that run power plants, water systems, and more. While this increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across our country – and around the world – it also has increased the importance and complexity of our shared risk. 

The Internet is truly a public place and once you post something online, it can be accessed by anyone, and you may have no control over what they might do with that information.  To help you stay safe online, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has the following tips for publishing information online:

  • View the Internet as a novel, not a personal diary – Make sure you are comfortable with anyone seeing the information you post online. Expect that people you have never met will find your information; even if you are using privacy settings, write it with the expectation that it is available for public consumption.
  • Be careful what you advertise –When deciding how much or what information to reveal online, realize that you are broadcasting it to the world. Supplying your email address may increase the amount of spam you receive. Providing details about your hobbies, your job, your family and friends, or your past may give strangers enough information to exploit.
  • Realize that you can't take it back – Once you publish something online, it is available to other people and to search engines. Even if you try to change or remove a page, a status update, or picture, someone may have already saved a copy or a screenshot of the page. Some search engines "cache" copies of web pages; these cached copies may be available after a web page has been deleted or altered.

Before you publish something on the Internet, determine what value it provides and consider the implications of having the information available to the public.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, and all of us are called upon to “ACT” or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.

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