Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it. #CyberAware

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Information about you, such aspersonal-info-v2 purchase history or location, has value – just like money.  Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it is collected by apps, websites and all connected devices.

Your devices make it easy to connect to the world around you, but they can also pack a lot of info about you and your friends and family, such as your contacts, photos, videos, location and health and financial data. Follow these tips to manage your privacy in an always-on world.

  • Secure your devices: Use strong passwords, passcodes or face/touch ID features to lock your devices. These security measures can help protect your information if your devices are lost or stolen and keep prying eyes out.  Also consider a privacy screen, especially on your mobile devices, to keep prying eyes from seeing what you see.
  • Think before you app: Information about you, such as the games you like to play, your contacts list, where you shop and your location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps.  Don’t play social media games that ask you for information about you, like what your first car was, the name of your first pet and other uniquely personal information.  Bad actors use this to build a profile about you so they can steal your identity.
  • Now you see me, now you don’t: Some stores and other locations look for devices with WiFi or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within range. Disable WiFi and Bluetooth when not in use.  There’s no need to tell everyone around you that your phone hotspot is available.  It’s just an invitation for a hacker to come after you.
  • Get savvy about WiFi hotspots: Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing on your mobile device while you are connected. Limit what you do on public WiFi, and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services on these networks. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) or a personal/mobile hotspot if you need a more secure connection on the go.  THis applies when you’re on the bus, plane or train as well.  Even though those networks only connect those who are there with you, there still could be a nefarious actor nearby who would be happy to snoop on what you are doing.

Be #CyberAware!

Testing Today at 2:18 PM – Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) System.

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IPAWSPlease be aware and spread the word that beginning at 2:18 PM today, Wednesday, October 3rd and lasting for approximately 30 minutes, the federal government will test the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system for the first time.  This test was originally planned for last month, but delayed due to Hurricane Florence.

While this has been politicized as President Trump wanting to be able to text every cell phone in the nation, this is merely an extension of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) that we are all familiar with.  That distinct tone and screen you hear and see on radio when the Emergency Alert System is tested is being extended to devices that can receive text messages from the cellular networks.  This is part of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS).  You may download a fact sheet about this test here.

The following are the details about today’s test:

The National EAS and WEA test will be held on the backup date of October 3, 2018, beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), will conduct a nationwide test of the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) and Emergency Alert System (EAS) on the backup date of October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence. The WEA portion of the test commences at 2:18 p.m. EDT, and the EAS portion follows at 2:20 p.m. EDT. The test will assess the operational readiness of the infrastructure for distribution of a national message and determine whether improvements are needed.

The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones that are connected to wireless providers participating in WEA. This is the fourth EAS nationwide test and the first national WEA test. Previous EAS national tests were conducted in November 2011, September 2016,  and September 2017 in collaboration with the FCC, broadcasters, and emergency management officials in recognition of FEMA’s National Preparedness Month.

Cell towers will broadcast the WEA test for approximately 30 minutes beginning at 2:18 p.m. EDT. During this time, WEA compatible cell phones that are switched on, within range of an active cell tower, and whose wireless provider participates in WEA should be capable of receiving the test message. Some cell phones will not receive the test message, and cell phones should only receive the message once. The WEA test message will have a header that reads “Presidential Alert” and text that says:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”

The WEA system is used to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations through alerts on cell phones. The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e. Tornado Warning, AMBER Alert). Users cannot opt out of receiving the WEA test.

The EAS is a national public warning system that provides the President with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency. The test is made available to EAS participants (i.e., radio and television broadcasters, cable systems, satellite radio and television providers, and wireline video providers) and is scheduled to last approximately one minute. The test message will be similar to regular monthly EAS test messages with which the public is familiar. The EAS message will include a reference to the WEA test:

“THIS IS A TEST of the National Emergency Alert System. This system was developed by broadcast and cable operators in voluntary cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, and local authorities to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency an official message would have followed the tone alert you heard at the start of this message. A similar wireless emergency alert test message has been sent to all cell phones nationwide. Some cell phones will receive the message; others will not. No action is required.”

The test was originally planned for September 20, 2018 but has been postponed until October 3, 2018 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence.