Monday, October 06, 2014

Cyber Security Awareness Month

With the release of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, Cyber Security Awareness Month almost lost focus.  Well, I've set Windows 10 Technical Preview aside for now to share some of the many security resources available not only during October but year round.

First, however, let's focus on protecting your digital life.


Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor Authentication (2FA) or Multi-factor Authentication (MVA) is a method of providing two forms of identification in order to obtain access.  It is comprised of something you know (password, passphrase, pin) and something you have (SMF code, RSA SecurID).  A third means is something you are such as your fingerprint or other biometric.

Why the concern?  It isn't only your email, Facebook or Twitter account that you need to be concerned about protecting.  A more grave concern is protection from identity theft which can occur when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission.  Identity theft can result in loss of finances and destroy both your credit history and reputation and is not easy to recover from.

It is the very information that is accessible from in your email account and shared in social media sites that, if compromised, can result in identity theft.  Two-factor authentication is a means protecting that information.
  1. Although you've heard this before, it bears repeating.  Start with a strong password and use a different password for each site.  (See Tips for creating a strong password.)  This becomes the something you know.

  2. The next step in enabling two-factor authentication requires setting up your account for the something you have, a code sent to your cell phone or to an alternate email address. 

    With your Microsoft Account used not only for email but also other Microsoft apps and services, it is one of the first places to start.  Fortunately, setting up two-factor authentication for your Microsoft Account is easy.Numerous references are available from my earlier blog post here.  
For sites that still use the archaic "challenge question" method to verify your identity, please see this advice in Bits from Bill, Your Email Password is a Target.

It is equally important to protect any files stored in the cloud.  If you use a Microsoft or Google account, Office 365, Dropbox, Facebook, or Twitter, see Ed Bott's step-by-step instructions in Make your cloud safer: How to enable two-factor authentication for the most popular cloud services.  Also check the Two Factor Auth List to find out which sites support two-factor authentication.

Cyber Security Awareness Month Resources

The United States isn't the only country supporting cyber security awareness.   Canada and the European Union are also involved in promoting cyber security awareness month.  Visit their sites along with the others listed below and

Remember - "A day without laughter is a day wasted."
May the wind sing to you and the sun rise in your heart...

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