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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Oct. 4, 2022

Coast Guard Cyber offers tips for online safety 

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and this year’s theme, “See Yourself in Cyber” focuses on the human aspect of navigating in today’s cyberspace world.  

The good news: you don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert or a “tech” person to do this safely. Coast Guard Cyber Command offers these four basic tips to keep you and your family more secure online – whether you are checking your email, using your cell phone, or just surfing the internet. 

  1. Think before you click - Recognize and Report Phishing: If a link looks a little weird, the subject is off, or the message is too good to be true, don’t open it.  It could be a phishing link that can install a malicious program on your computer or mobile device.  

  1. Update your software: Hackers are always finding software weaknesses and ways to exploit them, which is why providers regularly push out updates. Stay ahead of the curve and update your devices (computers, tablets, cell phones, “smart” devices, gaming systems, etc).  

  1. Use strong passwords: It’s not a person on the other end of the line trying to guess your password, it’s an automated program armed with common word lists and phrases. That automated program can crack a password like “P@$$word123” in less than a second. Please employ long, unique, and randomly generated passwords for your accounts. Consider using a password manager to encrypt and secure them for you so you don’t have to remember them all.  

  1. Enable multi-factor authentication: Simply put, a username + password alone doesn’t cut it these days (especially if your passwords are on the weaker side or you use the same password for multiple accounts). Consider enabling multi-factor authentication to access your accounts such as sending a one-time code to your cell phone to validate it’s really you. Most services offer this option and validate your identity through a combination of something you know (your username + password) and something you have (your cell phone).  

The Coast Guard’s Cyber Strategic Outlook showcases our commitment to Defend and Operate the Enterprise Mission Platform, Protect the Marine Transportation System, and Operate in and through Cyberspace. While we, as a community, are ever-vigilant in protecting our users, networks, and systems, the first line of defense is – you. Please take a moment to recognize the daily role you play in cyberspace to keep yourself, your family, and the Coast Guard safe. 

For more information on Cybersecurity Awareness Month, please check out DHS’s Cybersecurity Awareness Program