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Do This One Thing First to Stay Safe Online

Anytime you’re online, you’re at risk for a cybercrime.

Whether checking email on a home computer or updating social media on a mobile phone, we are all targets for the growing number of sophisticated tactics designed to trick us and gain access to our personal information.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month and a great time to learn how to better protect ourselves online. If you’re busy (like most Arlingtonians) you don’t have time to research every way to safeguard yourself online. Knowing this, I want to share one impactful step you can take this month to make a difference: 2-Factor Authentication (2FA).

You probably already use 2FA when banking online. If you’re not familiar with 2FA, I find it helpful to think of it like the lock on your front door. Standard usernames and passwords are like a lock and key. If a hacker has access to both, they can login to your accounts. Using 2FA is like adding a PIN pad to your front door.

In addition to the lock and the key, a hacker would also need your PIN code to open the door. That extra layer of security makes it just a bit harder to access your information — and most criminals will move on to easier targets.

What many people don’t realize is that 2FA can be used on all kinds of websites. Beyond banking, many email providers, shopping sites and delivery services support 2FA. If you do one thing this month to enhance your cyber safety, visit a resource like, find the most common sites you use, and take a few minutes to enroll yourself.

Richard Archambault is the Division Chief for Information Security, Privacy and Regulatory Affairs for Arlington County Government’s Department of Technology Services.

Arlington is consistently ranked one the nation’s Top Digital Counties. You can learn more about their efforts here.

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