NCSAM? That’s a Mouthful!

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). This is a month of bringing awareness to the importance of staying safe in the world of technology. Cybersecurity is intimidating and confusing to a lot of people. If you’re as confused as most, hopefully some of the NCSAM information being shared this October will help give you a better level of comfort in how to #BeCyberSmart.

Cyber tip #1: If you don’t know IT, hire IT.

If you owned a business, and you weren’t sure how to keep it safe and secure, you’d probably hire someone to help with security. Why should things be any different when your personal assets are at stake? You don’t have to pay a lot to get a lot.

Check out your local community college, or get involved in adult education courses through your local school district. You can also check out some of the self-study resources at the end of this post. They are reputable sources and will get you moving in the right direction. Or, if you are a HealthStar Client, ask your HealthStar contact and we will work with you to find some resources!

Before you pay anyone to help you, check out these free and low-cost options, or ask for some guidance at a local library or college.

Cybersecurity-schmybersecurity

In the land of words that are long and difficult to type, “Cybersecurity” is at least a contender. What do you picture when you see the word Cybersecurity? If you’re like most people, it’s something wiggly, not quite in focus, and hard to put your finger on. Maybe a shape-shifting robot, or something like that.

If you want to know what I picture, I’ll tell you. I picture this little logo:

TopDog PC

This is the logo of a company called TopDog PC Services. TopDog is my best friend in the whole, wide, computer-technology world. HealthStar’s IT department would be a sad place without TopDog. Beth and Susan would be afraid to come to work, and all of the other HealthStar staff would be wondering “what happened to our previously helpful, responsive, and effective IT ladies?”

Computers wouldn’t know when to update, or what to download. Our HIPAA security team would be nervously clearing throats and biting fingernails. Antivirus software would be disconnected, and we’d be stuck using TeamViewer or LogMeIn for remote support. Mobile devices would be out in the wild with no management.

Basically, it would be chaos, doom, and despair for all.

So, naturally, to kick off NCSAM, I wanted to say a big HealthStar thank-you to Joe, Jordon, and all of the staff at TopDog PC. You guys give our itsy bitsy, teeny-weeny, HealthStar IT team the courage of a fully staffed IT DEPARTMENT. You’ve given us the background knowledge that we don’t always have, and the technical expertise that we’ve always wanted. You keep us operating, you keep us updated, and you help us find the right tools to keep ourselves safe and secure in a world of ever-evolving technology. And you do all of this with SO. MUCH. PATIENCE.

THANK YOU!

We really do love you guys.

Sincerely,
Beth Taylor and Susan Mocchi
(Two of your biggest fans)

(And also from a bunch of people who might not even realize how much you help us out – all of the office staff in Bemidji, Cass Lake, Cloquet, Duluth, Inver Grove Heights, Nett Lake, North St. Paul, Ogema, St. Paul, Waite Park, and don’t forget Gallup, NM and Casa Grande, AZ!)

Stay tuned for more NCSAM fun and information, all throughout the month of October! And check out our Facebook page for even more information about how you can #BeCyberSmart.

Resource list:

https://staysafeonline.org/ncsam/themes/ (Loads of free tech safety resources for businesses, parents, teens, kids, older adults, and everyone in-between)

https://s2me.io/ (Free self-assessment to determine your personal level of security. Includes tons of great tips to improve security.)

And, of course, https://www.topdogpc.com/ (My best buddies in the technology world. Please look them up if you need help with IT coverage for your business. They are the bee’s knees of techies. They’ll help you figure out all of your tech and compliance stuff, and they will do it at a reasonable price. They also know all about wasabi soy almonds, yum. )

Keeping Seniors Safe Online

As caregivers, we work around the clock to ensure our senior loved ones are safe throughout the long Minnesota winter months, when interacting within the community, and also in their own home. But what about keeping seniors safe when they are surfing the World Wide Web? Are we as vigilant with their online safety? Today’s technology is a wonderful thing for so many reasons, but it also makes users vulnerable to cyber scams, spam, hackers and identity theft.

Staying in touch with long distant friends or family members is much easier through a variety of social networks. Photo albums from a family vacation are able to be created and viewed online by relatives who live far away. Videos of a new born grandchild can be shared and with such high definition that it feels like you can reach out and touch the new baby. Older adults are even using digital dating services in hopes to meet someone new to offer companionship or travel with. With all this sharing of information online, such as social media sites, it puts our senior loved ones at an increased risk and vulnerability of cyber scams that may do harm.

Studies show that many seniors in North America are interacting online in various capacities, such as online banking, social media, or emailing. Each time an account is created, detailed personal information is required and sharing any personal information can put the user at risk. Being mindful of what information is being posted on social media is also important. The risk of oversharing includes:

  • Photos posted on one social media account can show up on a different social media platform. For example, if you post a photo on Instagram or Twitter, it may also end up on Facebook if the accounts are connected. Review the privacy settings of all social media platforms to ensure protection and you are aware of exactly who can view your posts and profile.
  • When creating a profile on your social media accounts, try to minimize the amount of detailed personal information you provide. Specifics such as birthdates, a child’s name, or street address could end up being used against you by a computer hacker.
  • What seem harmless online quizzes and games also require personal information. All bits of information provided could end up in the wrong hands and put you at risk.

AARP has an online safety website with tips and interactive videos or webinars. This site teaches how to stay safe online with tips to avoid scams, learning how to create safe passwords, and even email and online searching safety tips and much more. Older adults tend to be more vulnerable to cyber-attacks for the following reasons:

  • By nature, seniors tend to be more trusting and this can open the risk to online scam.
  • Creating weak passwords. Generic passwords, such as Password123, are not strong enough.
  • The general complexity of today’s computers and mobile devices tend to frustrate older adults, but also leave them at high risk.

Practicing smart online habits will greatly decrease your chances of being targeted in a cyber scam. A daily digital experience may include shopping online, connecting with friends through social media, completing an online crossword puzzle, meeting new people in your community, managing your banking, including money transfers, catching up on the latest news or even watching a movie. Learn how to get the most out of your digital experience, safely and securely.

Through direct services and through its ethnic initiatives, HealthStar Home Health provides services in various Midwestern and Southwestern communities. HeathStar Home Health serves individuals of all ages and abilities with caring and cultural sensitivity. With services such as life and health management, mental health, home health and home help, at HealthStar we are committed to making our communities strong by enabling individuals of all ages to live more independent and fulfilling lives. Contact us today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation.