Every October, we recognize Cybersecurity Awareness Month and our shared responsibility to be proactive about digital privacy and security. Cybersecurity impacts daily life for all of us—both at home and work—and we want you to know what it takes to stay safe online.
There are all kinds of ways to protect your valuable data. Practicing the basics of cybersecurity is a simple way to start. We’re all responsible for our internet safety, so let’s remember to be cyber smart.
Phishing attacks have been escalating worldwide, including sophisticated two-factor authentication scams and the widespread use of ransomware. Be sure to back up your data and update your software and apps often. Help minimize the likelihood of a breach and learn more about cybersecurity at Cornell.
Take these simple steps now—and all year long—to safeguard your personal information and university data.
Most people know the pain of trying to come up with a good password. Now multiply that effort by the dozens of sites and services that require passwords, and it’s easy to see why so many people try to get away with using passwords that meet the bare minimum requirements or using the same password repeatedly.
Fortunately, technology has risen to the occasion and made it easier than ever for you to stay secure.
Biometrics are the gold standard.
The more complex a password or pin is, the harder it is for bad actors to break into your digital data. But a good password can be difficult to remember, and it can still be stolen. Biometrics offer an answer to both challenges. A fingerprint or a face are nearly impossible to duplicate, and they are always with you. This makes biometric authentication, such as facial or fingerprint recognition used by TouchID or Windows Hello, one of the best ways that you can keep your devices secure.
Using biometrics won’t compromise your personal identity.
Did you know that your actual fingerprint and the picture of your face are never stored? Your biometrics get scrambled, so that your fingerprint or face is stored only as a complex mathematical formula that creates a string of letters. Your face and fingerprint are never copied, so they can’t be stolen and they can’t be reconstructed due to the complexity of the formula used to create the string. (If biometrics still make you nervous, you may find our article about Biometrics and Your Privacy useful.)
Password managers can also keep your information secure.
No biometric capability on your devices? Password managers allow you to create strong passwords for each site you need to log in to, and you only need to remember one master password. If that master password is also complex and strong, then your credentials are well protected. There are many password managers available, most famously Google Password Manager and Apple’s iCloud Keychain. If you’re a current Cornell student, faculty, or staff, then you also have the option of using LastPass. See our article about how to Manage Passwords safely for more information.
The university is always taking steps to increase security. Our latest efforts include using biometrics with Secure Connect passwordless authentication. This is an initiative that is still in the early stages, but will one day reach the broader Cornell community. If you feel ready to upgrade your device’s security now, read our article on Biometrics for Device Security to find links for setting up biometrics on your device.