October was National Cyber Security Awareness Month, created and observed to ensure every American has the resources necessary to keep their personal and financial information safe and secure online. A simple Google search for cybersecurity tips will generate a plethora of information on how members should protect their data. Unfortunately, the majority of these resources, while practical, are also rudimentary in nature – think: Create a strong password and change it frequently, do not open email attachments from unknown sources, avoid questionable websites and clickbait articles, etc.

Think of the internet like an endless, dark parking lot. Novice users, blissfully unaware of their surroundings, can probably be found walking carelessly toward their vehicle with their face buried in their phone – an easy target for attackers. A user with rudimentary knowledge has probably performed a quick scan of their surroundings and moves purposely toward their vehicle – aware that an attacker may be lurking in the dark. An advanced user is keenly aware of their surroundings, and has his or her keys in hand, ready to use them as a weapon against any attacker.

Sophisticated hackers who seek to cause harm in the digital space are not deterred, impeded or stopped unless the end-user is sophisticated as well. Basic cyber-safety knowledge provides a foundation of protection, but simply no longer suffices in 2016. Look no further than the recent Blue Cross, eBay, Sony, Home Depot, JP Morgan, Target and Internal Revenue Service breaches to understand the gravity of the danger the digital world presents.

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