Although widely known as the first line of defense in avoiding cybercrime, passwords have long been firmly established as the weakest link in public entity cybersecurity protocol. Poorly managed passwords remain the most significant and preventable threat to your public entity’s security posture due to the unfortunate reality that people continue to use weak login passwords. To make matters worse, these same passwords are often also used across various devices, platforms, and websites. In these cases, by hacking one password, cybercriminals effectively open the doors to your entire digital ecosystem.

As much as we try to convince ourselves that our passwords are impenetrable, professional hackers use tools and tactics that can help unveil them in seconds. Weak password security can lead to data breaches, identity theft, and even computer hijacking, allowing criminals to access and exploit your entity’s personally identifiable records.

Are you still using your cat’s name, followed by an exclamation point, as your password? Do you use the same password for a variety of logins? If so, it’s time for a change. And when it comes to protecting yourself, your colleagues, and the community you serve, there’s no better time than the present. 

Four easy steps to becoming a Password Pro: 

  1. Keep it complicated. Consistently updating passwords containing more than ten characters, with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols can help significantly reduce your risk of being hacked. 
  2. Don’t make it personal. A study conducted by Morris and Thompson in 1978 demonstrated that it is easier to guess passwords through personal information (family members’ names, birthdays, home addresses, etc.) than to decipher them.
  3. Use random passphrases. A passphrase (e.g., “memo-tiger-thread-glue-button” or “Isn’t that quarterback the best in New England?”) can be easier for you to remember but more difficult to hack. The key to creating solid passphrases is randomness.  
  4. Get password (and cyber) smart. The helpful tips above are examples of the initial steps you can take to protect yourself, your colleagues, and your community against cybercrime. CIRMA’s member-exclusive Cyber Webinar Series offers contextual scenarios and the latest information on successfully managing password security best practices. Sign in to CIRMA e-learning to access this valuable member benefit, or contact us to get started.  

Most of our professional and personal business is conducted online, and maintaining strong and secure passwords is crucial to mitigating cyber-related risks and exposures. Training and education remain the most effective defense against cybercrimes and knowing how to protect yourself and your organization is easier than ever. Learn at your own pace and when and where you choose with CIRMA’s e-learning resources, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you haven’t taken advantage of the many benefits available through CIRMA’s e-Learning platform, contact your local CIRMA Risk Management representative today to get started. There is no additional charge to CIRMA members or their employees for this service. 

Check out CIRMA’s Cyber Center to learn how CIRMA can help your organization prevent and manage cyber exposures.

Cyber Resources Created for CIRMA Members:

Experts say the fall season is a temporal landmark or a moment that evokes a flood of positive core memories for most of us. However, despite their fondness for hot apple cider and carving jack-o-lanterns, most risk managers and information technology professionals likely associate the month of October with Cybersecurity Awareness. And we can’t blame them. October is, after all, Cyber Security Awareness month, and the unfortunate circumstances that can arise due to poor cybersecurity practices can be much more frightening than any Halloween scare. 

According to IBM’s Cost of Data Breach Report, phishing is the costliest type of cyberattack in 2022, costing $4.91M. And human error is (still) consistently the leading cause of cybersecurity breaches, accounting for 95% of all data breaches. Organizations have battled human error since welcoming technology into the workplace. Whether employees ignore security software updates or fall victim to phishing emails, breaches can evolve from countless avenues due to fundamental human error. 

Over 90% of data breaches and hacks result from phishing scams that appear most frequently through emails, where criminals pose as legitimate institutions to obtain personal information. Successful phishing cyberattacks are costly and can cause substantial interruptions to your operations.

If you’re unsure you’ve identified a potential email phishing scam, remember to always err on the side of caution and report it immediately. If you suspect an email phishing scam, here’s what to look for:

Identifying common phishing scam tactics is the first step to mitigating cybercrime. Raising awareness about all types of phishing scams through training and education is the most effective defense.

CIRMA Risk Management offers a Cyber Webinar Series through its exclusive CIRMA member Vector Solutions platform. This robust training and education tool features cybersecurity-related online training courses and webinars proven to educate employees and reduce costly and disruptive cybercrimes, including phishing attacks.  

Learning how to be cyber-smart has never been more convenient. CIRMA’s online courses and webinars allow employees to learn at their own pace, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you haven’t taken advantage of the many benefits available through CIRMA’s exclusive online training and education platform, contact your local CIRMA Risk Management representative to get started today. There is no additional charge to CIRMA members for this service. 

Visit CIRMA’s Cyber Center for more information on preventing and managing cyber exposures.

Cyber Resources Created for CIRMA Members:

The home office has become a coveted commodity. Unfortunately, not all homes offer dedicated office spaces. Because of this, kitchen counters, dining tables, living rooms, or bedroom spaces are doubling as home offices.

CIRMA’s latest whitepaper, Creating a Home Work Environment That Works for You, identifies best practices for employees working from home who face the dilemma of creating a workstation that allows them to be productive and incorporate proper ergonomics. In this whitepaper, we share achievable and straightforward guidance to help you maximize comfort and reduce risks while working from home.

Adopting healthy behaviors outlined in this helpful resource and knowing what to look for when choosing the right space for you can improve your overall well-being and maximize productivity while working remotely.

Creating a home workspace does not require extraordinary upgrades to your home or even purchasing fancy office equipment. Setting up a workspace with basic ergonomic strategies in mind is beneficial in many ways, including promoting productivity and focus and helping to avoid discomfort and social isolation.

Helpful Resources for CIRMA Members:

Take me to the full whitepaper

Download CIRMA’s latest Workplace Safety Works Ergonomics poster

Benjamin Franklin once said that the only certain things in life are death and taxes. Unfortunately, cyberattacks are becoming another looming certainty to which we’re accustomed. Cyberattacks against municipalities are increasingly common and more sophisticated—and bad actors are dedicated to uncovering new opportunities to exploit their victims. 

Social engineering cyberattacks are becoming increasingly prevalent, costing municipalities millions annually. According to IBM’s latest Data Breach Report, social engineering attacks cost an average of $4.54 million—this figure does not include the cost of the ransom itself. To make matters worse, data breaches resulting from social engineering attacks can often lead to widespread fraud and identity theft.

Social engineering is especially dangerous because it relies heavily on the human element rather than operating system vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals exploit human errors and behaviors to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential information that is ultimately used to launch cyberattacks.

Social engineers are masters at their craft, often misrepresenting themselves as trusted individuals in your life, including a friend, family member, colleague, or long-term external business partner. They might send you conspicuous messages containing malicious links or downloads. Suppose the sender cannot prove their identity, asserts an unnecessary sense of urgency, or lacks context or relevance in their request. In that case, odds are they are committing fraud using social engineering tactics. 

As with most cyber threats, social engineering schemes continue to evolve and become more sophisticated. However, through targeted education, public entities like yours can equip employees with the techniques they need to avoid the high-stakes risks of social engineering tactics, including preventing costly data breaches.

CIRMA Risk Management offers a Cyber Webinar Series through its exclusive CIRMA member Vector Solutions platform. This robust training and education tool features cybersecurity-related online training courses and webinars proven to educate employees and reduce costly and disruptive cyber exposures.  

Courses and webinars are available for employees to learn at their own pace, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you haven’t taken advantage of the many benefits available through CIRMA’s exclusive online training and education platform, contact your local CIRMA Risk Management representative to get started today. There is no additional charge to CIRMA members for this service. Visit CIRMA’s Cyber Center for helpful information on preventing and managing cyber exposures.

Helpful Cyber Resources for CIRMA Members: