My Coconut Creek

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. 

For the past 12 years, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance have dedicated the month to public education on cyber safety. 

The city’s Information Technology Security Awareness Program was designed to enhance traditional security-awareness training beyond compliance to behavioral changes that positively impact security management. The goal is to make individuals understand the risks involved in using technology and how to effectively defend themselves against cyberthreats, both at work and at home. As a result, city personnel are better positioned to follow organizational policies and actively recognize, report and prevent incidents.

Many of the security practices used by the city can be easily incorporated into your own plan for a cyber-secure home by concentrating efforts in four major areas: 

Your Home Network

Password-protect your Wi-Fi with WPA2, the latest encryption standard. Anyone that wishes to join your network must be required to use a password – one that you created and only you know. Finally, perform a periodic inventory of all devices connected to your home network.

Your Computers and Devices

Keep your computer and devices up-to-date. Having the latest security software, Web browser and operating system is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats to your computers, smartphones, gaming systems and other Web-enabled devices.

Your Accounts and Passwords

Email, banking, shopping and social media accounts are vulnerable sources of gaining insight to your personal information. Create passphrases for your accounts that are easy to remember, but hard to guess, such as “i Luv coconut creek.” Protect your money online by ensuring the site is security-enabled with “https://” in the Web address. Finally, be selective in posting information on your social media sites. Assume anything you post will be seen by your family, co-workers and boss.


Social engineering is the art of manipulating people to give up confidential information. Be vigilant. Pay close attention to all work and personal emails and verify unexpected or suspicious emails by telephoning the sender. Most importantly, DO NOT open attachments or click on links contained in emails from unknown senders.

To learn more, go to StaySafeOnline.org or visit the Department of Homeland Security website on National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015. ?


Mary Jones is the city’s IT technical trainer. She holds a bachelor’s in technical education and industry training from the University of Central Florida and is completing her master’s degree in information technology in education from Nova Southeastern University. She is industry-certified as a CompTia Certified Technical Trainer and a Microsoft Office Specialist Master Instructor.

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Mike Vecchione

I’m not short enough to be cute, not tall enough to be an actual man … Women don’t find me adorable, but I still can’t reach things. (From his stand-up routine.) My grandfather and father had a family business, and they didn’t get along. So my father took his family and moved us to Boca.