For the first time ever, Guilford County is conducting a public relations campaign to warn county residents about the threat of cybercrime.

County officials are reminding everyone that cybercrime is a huge problem right now, but there are things that can be done to mitigate the threat.

The county’s IT people are leading the campaign and they know a thing or two about it. Four years ago, then Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing told the Board of Commissioners at a retreat that they would be utterly astonished if they knew the extent and nature of the cyberattacks that county government had to ward off in a single day. Also, the walls of break rooms and elevators in county buildings are plastered with posters warning county employees to be on guard against cyberthreats, malware and cyber scams.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and Guilford County is using the opportunity to try to keep residents safe from the threat.

To that end, on Monday, Oct. 3, the county sent out a press release  on National Cybersecurity Month, which “aims to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity, emphasizes personal accountability, and highlights proactive steps to enhance and ensure the security of personal and work-related private information.”

This is the 20th anniversary Cybersecurity Awareness Month information campaign, and, throughout October, Guilford County will share online safety tips on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in addition to other efforts to get the word out.

The following tips come from the county’s Information Technology Department.  Most people know most of these tips already but because they’re worth repeating – and because many people still use “secret” as their password – here goes:

• Use strong passwords. Long, complex, and unique passwords are the best. Use a password manager to generate passwords and save them. Don’t reuse passwords. Generate a unique password for each of your online accounts.

• Turn on multifactor authentication. It can be a pain to use, but multifactor authentication offers an extra layer of protection for your accounts, personal devices, and business networks. Enable the feature wherever possible.

•Recognize and report phishing. Be wary of unsolicited emails, texts, or calls asking you for personal information. Don’t click on links or open attachments from unknown sources.

• Keep software up to date. Enabling automatic software updates allows your devices, and applications to receive the latest security patches and remain continuously up to date.

Guilford County also reminds residents that the County will never ask for personal or financial information on its social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. When in doubt, always verify by calling Guilford County directly.