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MADISON, Wis. – From paying bills to interacting with friends, online accounts have become a crucial part of our lives. October is Cyber Security Awareness Month in Wisconsin, and it’s a good time to secure those accounts.

“Online banking, social media, and email are all essential services in our daily lives,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general and homeland security advisor. “Since these services handle our most sensitive information, it’s essential to take every possible precaution to ensure those accounts remain secure.”

There are several steps people can take to protect their accounts from cyber criminals:

Use strong passwords – Set a unique password for each account you use. Passwords should be 10-12 characters and include a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and non-numeric characters. Regularly change the passwords on all of your accounts.

Use two-step authentication – Two-step authentication can offer an extra layer of protection and prevent someone from logging in to an account on a unknown device. Check the security settings in your account to see what options may be available.

Update software often – Make sure you are using the latest version of your web browser or mobile app when accessing online accounts. Enable auto-updates so security patches can be implemented right away. Be careful about accessing accounts on devices you don’t own.

Beware of phishing attempts – Be suspicious of any unsolicited email asking you to log in to your accounts. Avoid clicking links in those emails, which could lead to an impostor site or download malware to your device. Only log in through the website or app you typically use.

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