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LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: In this photo illustration, A woman is silhouetted against a projection of a password log-in dialog box on August 09, 2017 in London, England. With so many areas of modern life requiring identity verification, online security remains a constant concern, especially following the recent spate of global hacks. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Cybersecurity Awareness Month was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in October 2004 as a broad effort to help all Americans stay safer and more secure online.

The people who want your information have many ways to trick you into giving it to them. Two years ago, a family member of mine was scammed out of $1,000 over the phone by a so called debt collector. A few months pass, and I received a similar fearmongering phone call, but luckily noticed the red flags and hung up.

“They’re online, they’re in-person, they’re on the phone, they’re through text messages. Scammers are literally everywhere,” South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA) Director Bailey Parker told WCNC.

Here are a few tricks to watch for and how to stay a step ahead:

  • Double your login protection: Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you.
  • Shake up your password protocol: Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts.
  • Stay up to date: Keep your software updated with the latest version available to maintain your security settings.
  • Stay protected while connected: If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (e.g., banking) that require passwords or credit cards. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi.

The theme for 2021 is ‘Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart’, helping to empower individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace.