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Homeland Security

Stop.Think.Connect. Cyber Tips

Quick Tips

The majority of cybercriminals do not discriminate; they target vulnerable computer systems regardless of whether they are part of a government agency, Fortune 500 company, small business, or belong to a home user. However, there are steps you can take to minimize your chances of an incident:

  • Set strong passwords, change them regularly, and don’t share them with anyone.
    • Do not include your name, your kids' or pets' names, or other well-known information about yourself in your password;
    • Avoid using common words in your passwords or passphrases. Instead, break up words with numbers and punctuation marks or symbols. For example, @ can replace the letter "A" and an exclamation point (!) can replace the letters "I" and "L"; and
    • Use a combination of upper and lower case letters.
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates.
  • Maintain an open dialogue with your friends, family, colleagues and community about Internet safety.
  • Use privacy settings and limit the amount of personal information you post online.
  • Be cautious about offers online – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Incident Response

The extent, nature, and timing of cyber incidents are impossible to predict. If you are a victim of a cyber incident, follow the steps below to respond and recover from the incident. 

Immediate Actions

  • Check to make sure the software on all of your systems is up-to-date.
  • Run a scan to make sure your system is not infected or acting suspiciously.
  • If you find a problem, disconnect your device from the Internet and perform a full system restore.

If at Home

  • Disconnect your device from the Internet to prevent an attacker or virus from being able to access your system.
  • If you have anti-virus software installed on your device, update the virus definitions and perform a manual scan of your entire system. Install all of the appropriate patches to fix known vulnerabilities.

If at Work

  • If you have access to an IT department, contact them immediately.
  • If you believe you might have revealed sensitive information about your organization, report it to the appropriate people within the organization, including network administrators.

If at a public place (school, library, etc.)

  • Immediately inform a librarian, teacher, or manager in charge. If they have access to an IT department, contact them immediately.

Incident Reporting

After taking immediate action, notify the proper authorities:

Last Published Date: March 19, 2015

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