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National Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), and First Tech wants to help you stay safe in your daily digital life.

NCSAM is a collaborative effort between the Department of Homeland Security and its public and private partners—including the National Cyber Security Alliance to raise awareness about the increasingly vital role of cyber security in the lives of all U.S. citizens. There is no shortage of good resources available that offer tips and information about being safe online, but the volume of information can be overwhelming.

We've compiled a few basic guidelines to help you start thinking about your online safety. Here are a few ways to take action to protect yourself today:

Create a strong password: Don't set "password" as your password. Always use a unique password on your accounts, instead of recycling old passwords. Consider using passphrases rather than passwords, or create an acronym from a longer sentence that is meaningful to you. Substituting numbers, symbols, and misspellings for letters or words will make it even more secure.

Check your credit report: Get in a habit of checking on your credit at least once a year. If you are planning to make a large purchase, or are going through other major life changes, you may want to keep an eye on it more frequently.

Keep your security up to date: Think of it as a way to boost your online immune system. Some web pages can install unwanted programs and trackers on your device, putting your information at risk. Install both anti-virus and anti-spyware programs to protect yourself. Check your phone, laptop and any other devices to ensure they are up to date with the latest security updates and patches.

Don't share personal information: Sometimes - like in the case of many romance scams—fraudsters exploit a personal connection or a sense of trust in order to extort money or financial information online. Never provide money or personal information to someone online that you have not met. If you have developed a relationship with someone on the internet who is requesting financial assistance, or access to your bank account information, there are many red flags to watch out for. If the person avoids in-person meetings, cites an emergency or time constraints in their request, claims to be in the U.S. military or makes a threat against you, it could be a scam.

Alert First Tech: We've got your back. If anything seems out of the ordinary, contact us. We're here to protect your financial life and we can help determine if there is a problem. Here are a few more helpful resources to keep you safe during NCSAM and throughout the year: