Information Technology Services
Information Technology Services

Cyber Security Awareness Month banner, article three

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month! Each week, Information Technology Services (ITS) will be releasing a new article to help our community stay safe online. For more information about this initiative, visit the ITS Cyber Security Awareness Month 2016 page.

Using a pet's name in your password? You're not alone

Oh. My. Goodness. You think your little Buddy is so cute. In fact, you think Buddy is so adorable that you’ve posted his photo all over your social media accounts. Heck, Buddy even has his own Instagram account documenting your cross-country trip to the Grand Canyon!

Image of a computer hacker sitting at his computerBe careful what, where and when you post

Did you know a cyber thief or hacker can track your location, knowing what you’re doing and where…all because you’ve handed over the information via social media?

That hacker may even be correct to assume that you’ve used Buddy’s name in your password…sound familiar? According to a recent survey by Google Apps, pet’s names are used most commonly for passwords. If you use a common password that is easy to crack, not only can your personal accounts be hacked, but your Queen’s account may be put at risk too. Remember when we told you about what can happen if they access your MyHR login in Article Two: Here phishy, phishy, phishy?

How to keep you and Buddy safe from watchful eyes

By all means, keep posting those hilarious videos of Buddy learning how to unsuccessfully rollover – we love them! But there are steps you can take to ensure that you aren’t followed and your accounts are safe when dealing with passwords and social media.

  • Choose a strong password that isn’t ‘Buddy123’. Read over our password suggestions, on the ITS Strong Passwords page.
  • Limit what you post publicly – never give out your home address or phone number and be careful about posting photos that may link to your identity such as your car and licence plate number.
  • Be careful when posting pictures with geotags. Checking in doesn’t just let your friends know where you are, it also tells complete strangers where you and Buddy are if you have a public profile.
  • Don’t make your life a live feed of your activities. Disable GPS tracking and consider posting that photo of you and Buddy overlooking Niagara Falls until after your trip (hello! That’s what #tbt is for!).
  • Read the Best Practices page on the ITS website for more information on keeping safe online.

Bonus tip: Delete your browser’s tracking cookies. These bits of text stored on your computer keeps track of your behavior such as search history or an online shopping cart in order to present you with advertisements for products you might be enticed to buy. While most of them are harmless, there is a chance that spyware may be sending your online behavior to a party that you don’t want tracking you.

Time to review your social media behaviour

Maybe this is a good time to think about tightening up your account’s privacy settings. ITS provides lots of resources for education and awareness about computing safely.

If you think your computer has been compromised, change your password immediately and please contact our IT Support Centre as soon as possible by calling 613.533.6666 or fill in the Online Help Form.

Cyber security is our shared responsibility.Related: