A black screen with green computer code. Cybersecurity

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

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October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. As Workit Health’s IT Specialist, I’m here to share a few security recommendations with you. 

During my IT career, I’ve worked in the trenches of cyber defense. The past year alone, I worked at a security operations center. There I was part of a team that was specialized in investigating security vulnerabilities and incidents. I personally monitored the cybersecurity networks of hospitals, large restaurants, and Fortune 500 companies. I learned to think like a hacker because, if I couldn’t spot and report them, the private health information of people like you and me was at risk. 

The number one lesson I learned from my time working the front lines was this: the majority of cyber threats can be prevented with small adjustments. Here are the easiest ones you can do right now to make it very unlikely for a bad actor to access your account. 

Cybersecurity Tip #1: Activate Two-Factor Authentication.

Bar none, this is the most effective way to keep your account safe from unauthorized access. It doesn’t matter if a person is on the other side of the world—if they have your email address and your password, they will be able to access your account if the password is the only defense it has. When you enable Two-Factor Authentication(2FA), your account has a form of defense that has nothing to do with your password or username. First you enter your password, then a code sent to your phone via text message to allow you to sign in to your account. So even if a person is able to guess or steal your password, they still can’t access your account unless they also have your actual cell-phone. 

To enable 2FA on the Workit app:

  • Log in to the Workit app on your computer or mobile device. 
  • Click your name in the top right corner and then click the profile button. 
  • After that, click the Password and Security tab in the middle of the left most column. 
  • There at the bottom, you can enable 2FA after entering your password.

Cybersecurity Tip #2: Strengthen Your Password.

2FA is necessary because most passwords are weak. Hackers have big files on the internet full of every word and number in the dictionary in every language. If your password is simple, those hacking programs are capable of correctly guessing it within a few seconds. Beyond that, people who you know might be able to guess it. A hacker might not know your son’s name or where you went to middle school, but an abusive ex might. 

There is goods news! If you use the following guidelines when making your password, it will be secure enough to make the majority of password cracking and guessing methods completely ineffective. 

A great password:

  • Is at least 10 characters long.
  • Includes uppercase letters, lowercase letters and special characters like @ or !
  • Is not used for any other website and isn’t shared with anybody else.

Don’t overthink it. Your password doesn’t need to be some complex cipher that you have no chance of remembering! The new school of thought with passwords recommends use of easily remembered unique phrases. For example, a password like “Imbad@pa$$words!” is pretty easy to remember while also being pretty complicated. Can you imagine someone successfully guessing that by hand? Better still, it’s complicated enough that even a super computer would take a ridiculous amount of time to crack it. 

Having a unique password for each account is a pain, it’s true. There’s no getting around that. The internet used to be a gentler place. Now, hackers aren’t isolated. They are part of learning communities that exchange leaked password lists like kids trading Magic cards. If one of your passwords is leaked, the first thing someone is going to do with that password is check to see if it works for every major banking website, along with Paypal and Cash app. Keeping a unique password for each site makes sure that a leak in one site doesn’t lead to a leak in every site.  

To change your password with Workit:

  • Log in to the Workit App on your computer or mobile device. 
  • Click your name in the top right corner and then click the profile button. 
  • After that, click the Password and Security tab in the middle of the left most column. 
  • There, enter your current password followed by a strong new password. 

Cybersecurity Tip #3: Add 2FA to your email account.

If your online presence were a house, your email account could be considered your safe. It’s a locked vault that contains a lot of potentially personal information. You might securely send email to your health providers, but if somebody got into your email, they could access the copies of those emails. On top of that, your email account can be used to reset your password for other accounts. Someone could use it to impersonate you and scam friends or family, damaging your reputation and relationships.

Enabling 2FA is different depending on which email you use. Here are links to guides for a few of the more popular email options.

Enable 2FA for Google Mail

Enable 2FA for Microsoft Outlook

Enable 2FA for Yahoo Mail

Just remember, the only thing you need to use 2FA is a cell phone! And it basically guarantees that the only person getting into any of your accounts is you. For many people, that peace of mind of worth the minor inconvenience in an increasingly hostile internet. 

Cybersecurity Tip #4: Don’t get phished.

Know this. Nobody from any reputable service is going to ask you for your password over phone, email, or chat. Nobody. I know for a fact that no one at Workit Health will ever need the password of your account for any reason. We at Workit Health have the utmost respect for the privacy of your data and the secure integrity of your accounts. However, hackers and scammers will sometimes impersonate IT support or medical staff in an effort to trick unsuspecting people into giving out important information.

Treat your passwords and personal information like the precious data they are. Guard them. In your life, plenty of people will ask you to prove you are who you say you are. Flip that back on those asking, to get verification that they’re legit and make sure you aren’t victim of a phishing scam. 

Cybersecurity Tip #5: Accept that there is risk. Then take steps to protect yourself.

Look, I get it. For a lot of people, using the Internet is already hard enough without making it harder. In spite of that, the world we live in has made one thing clear: we’re not going to be doing less online. We’re going to be doing more. So we need to take our cybersecurity seriously.

We shop online, entertain ourselves online, bank online, work online, and yes, even get medical care online. In the future, we might see more heavy regulation on the internet that may give a certain standard of safety to all things we do online. 

That said, until the world governments start legislating as fast as new technology develops, we are going to find ourselves in situations where we need to be proactive in order to keep ourselves safe. In the real world, that might look like buying an alarm system or getting a big dog. In the online world, that’s getting 2FA and strong, unique passwords. 

The security of your data and accounts is always at the top of our minds at Workit. We offer thanks for any ways you can assist us in better protecting it. If you have any specific questions about your account, please reach out of us and we’re happy to answer. 

Valon is an IT expert with a background in cyber-security and an IT specialist and Workit Health, where he is eager to apply solutions with technical expertise that facilitate positive social change.

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