Pritzker (copy) (copy)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Having a strong password is the first step to protecting online accounts, the state’s Chief Information Security Officer said.

October is National Cyber Security Month. To coincide, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has proclaimed October Cyber Security Month in Illinois.

Illinois Chief Information Security Officer Adam Ford said online passwords should be difficult to crack, but simple enough to remember without writing it down. He recommended using a phrase and then add a number and or symbol to it. He also said not to use the same password for everything, and to change passwords often. The strongest passwords should be used for the most important online accounts.

Illinois CIO and DoIT Acting Director Ron Guerrier said that raising awareness was the best line of defense against cyber attacks.

“Every day, cybercriminals find new ways to access valuable information for financial gain or actions that could threaten our safety,” he said. “To strengthen our state’s cyber posture, DoIT leads cyber awareness training for over 40,000 state employees annually.”

National Cyber Security Awareness Month has been recognized annually in October since 2004 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency has partnered with the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology along with county and municipal emergency management agencies to raise awareness about online risks.

IEMA Ready Illinois website’s offers tips to minimize the risk of becoming a cybercrime victim:

• Configure your computer securely. Use privacy and security settings in your software, email system and web browsers. Regularly update your anti-virus software to identify and thwart new strains of malicious software.

• Keep software and operating systems updated. Install all software updates as soon as they are offered; using the “auto update” setting is the best way to ensure timely updates.

• Use strong passwords. Cybercriminals use automated programs that will try every word in the dictionary in a few minutes. When creating a password, use at least 10 characters, with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

• Be cautious about links and attachments. Even communications you receive that appear to be from friends and family might contain links to malicious sites, so be careful when clicking on links in those messages. When in doubt, delete it.

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