This post is from Tabice Ward, DTE Energy’s director of Cybersecurity and Compliance

Everyone is a target. However, cyber-attacks are mostly preventable if consumers take the steps necessary to protect themselves. In honor of National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, here are ten easy steps to help ensure your cyber safety and protect your personal identity:

  1. Know you are a target to hackers. They want your credentials and personal information to sell on the black market. Everyone is at risk – and the stakes are high to your personal and financial well-being.  Follow the tips below to help protect yourself.
  2. Be password smart. Create long passwords – the longer they are, the stronger they are. Use different passwords for your email and financial/sensitive sites. Don’t choose password recovery questions and answers that are easy to guess and lookup (via social networks, Google, etc.) Consider the use of a password manager to help you maintain strong unique passwords for all your accounts.
  3. Surf with suspicion. Avoid visiting unknown websites or clicking on ads that pop-up on your screen, especially if they seem too good to be true. Be careful while on social media – pop-up ads can harbor malicious code and download malware on your device.
  4. Only install apps and anti-virus protection from trusted sources.
  5. Keep your computer up-to-date with security patches and virus software. Always install the latest security updates for your devices. Turn on automatic updates for your systems.
  6. Avoid phishing scams. Don’t click on links or attachments in emails, especially those requesting private information. Also, be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls asking for private information.
  7. Use mobile devices safely. Lock your device with a PIN or password, and install anti-virus software and if possible, encryption protection.
  8. Never leave devices unattended. The physical security of your devices is just as important as the technical security. Lock them up if you must be away from them.
  9. Use public wireless wisely. Avoid entering or accessing personal or sensitive information when using a public computer or kiosk, or when connected to public Wi-Fi.
  10. Be careful what you share with people on social media. Once you post something, it’s there forever.

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