Strong cyber hygiene makes the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s job easier.

The organization within the Department of Homeland Security is tasked with protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks and as part of the lead up to National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, the agency released a toolkit Aug. 14 for preventing attacks. Created in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance, the toolkit contains best practices for citizen to protect themselves online.

Here’s a round-up of CISA’s internet security recommendations:

Be wary of public Wi-Fi

Public wireless networks can be insecure. CISA recommends that users confirm the wireless network name and log-in procedures with the organization’s staff before connecting. While browsing, the security agency says users shouldn’t connect to their banking portal or log in to other sites that have sensitive information, such as credit card numbers.

Another option: use a personal hotspot.

The agency also recommends running security updates.

“The best defense against viruses and malware is to update to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems," the toolkit reads.

Keep log-in credentials secure

To keep accounts as secure as possible, enable multi-factor authentication across all accounts, from banking to email to social media. Multifactor authentication will “ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you,” the toolkit said.

CISA also suggests avoiding choosing the same password on all accounts and pointed to password managers as a way to stay organized.

Be vigilant of apps and social media posts

Social media posts could give away personal details that will allow hackers to target users, even if the posts are as mundane as where to grab the morning coffee, birthdays or vacation plans.

“These seemingly random details are all criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and your physical belongings — online and in the physical world,” the toolkit said.

CISA also warns users about internet connected devices, such as toys or appliances, that run on mobile applications.

“Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved — gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk," the tool kit read.

Andrew Eversden covers all things defense technology for C4ISRNET. He previously reported on federal IT and cybersecurity for Federal Times and Fifth Domain, and worked as a congressional reporting fellow for the Texas Tribune. He was also a Washington intern for the Durango Herald. Andrew is a graduate of American University.

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