Are Your Passwords Secure? 6 Tips for Protecting Your Data

These days, one of the most common security threats people face comes from the internet. We all rely on a number of user names and passwords to access our personal data. From banking and email to shopping and job applications, there is a great deal of our personal information available to those who want to find it on the internet.

What happens when those credentials are compromised? If you have done anything online, the chances are good that you are one of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide whose data has been exposed. Although you can't do much to prevent massive breaches like those at Equifax, DoorDash and Facebook in recent years, you can take measures to keep yourself safe.

One of the first things you can do to protect yourself online is to create strong passwords. Gone are the days when you could get by using the same password for all of your accounts or using your birth date for your PIN. The reality of security today is that we all need to be on top of securing our data.

6 Tips for Keeping Your Passwords Secure

With passwords, the longer and more complex the better. Let’s discuss some of the ways you can protect your personal information with user names and passwords that are unique enough to thwart hackers.

Avoid using your personal data.

Much of our personal information such as birth dates, addresses, phone numbers and the names of relatives can be found on the internet. Even a simple search on social media can pull up a lot of this information. Avoid using any personal data that is publicly available and easy for hackers to find.

Shorten a long, but memorable phrase.   

Rather than using a simple word, number and symbol combination, choose a memorable phrase that has meaning to you as the basis for your password. For example, you may select the lyrics to a favorite song or a made-up sentence that is unique to you. Shorten the phrase by removing all but the first letter of each word. Finally, replace some letters with numbers or symbols.

The famous Billy Joel song "Piano Man" can translate into many complex passwords, including SuSP1an0m@n or B1ll1ePm@n.

Replace letters with symbols.  

As you may have seen in the above tip, some letters can be replaced by numbers or special characters to provide even more password complexity. Adding unexpected symbols in your password can help deter password hacking software and keep your accounts safe.

Never save your password if prompted.

Many browsers and websites ask if you’d like to save your password to make signing on in the future quicker and easier. Although this may seem like a convenient and time-saving offer, this is never recommended. Saving this data means that a third party has access to your user name and password, reducing your security and leaving you at risk for a compromised account.   

Be aware of phishing and scams.

These days there are tons of scammers out there who are looking to make money off of people online. Phishing, the practice of attempting to gather personal information from people using fake emails, websites and other online means, is an all-too-common threat on the internet.

To avoid being the victim of a phishing scheme, be skeptical of offers that seem too good to be true, like a free vacation or gift card for completing a brief survey. Do not trust emails that ask for personal banking information, PINs or your social security number, even if they appear to be from your bank or the government. Be wary of emails that are riddled with misspellings and poor grammar. If you are unsure if an email is legitimate, do not reply, call a telephone number from within the email or click on any links in the email.

Get a password manager.

Many people keep track of their user names and passwords by recording them in a spreadsheet or written on a piece of paper. What happens when your laptop is stolen or when that paper is lost? Do not risk your personal information falling into the wrong hands.

Use a password manager to store all of your login credentials in an encrypted format so that they are protected from hackers. Instead of remembering (or struggling to remember) all of your passwords, you will only have to know one password to access your online accounts. Some trusted options include LastPass, Dashlane and 1Password.

Online Security Starts with You 

The topic of security online is complicated. Creating strong passwords is just one of the first steps we can take to protect ourselves online. For more information on internet safety for consumers, visit the Federal Trade Commission website to learn more about keeping your identity secure.

When you need security personnel who aim higher

Call Off Duty Officers, Inc. to find out how we can serve your business.

Off Duty Officers, Inc. provides armed and unarmed, off duty law enforcement and security personnel for both short- and long-term assignments. Contact us for an instant

Our experience means your safety.

Firearm Safety: 8 Rules for Safe Gun Handling

Gun safety continues to be a hot topic around the world. It seems like another mass shooting appears on the news every week in this country and around the world. No matter where you stand on the topic, everyone can agree that firearm safety is something that needs to be taken seriously.

Handling a firearm is a serious responsibility. Whether you are a new or an experienced gun owner, anyone who handles a gun must know how to operate it with safety in mind. Both gun operators and those around them can be at risk for severe injury or even death if they do not follow the proper safety precautions. 

When you are handling a firearm, there are universal safety rules that must be followed to minimize the risk of an incident. In this article, we will highlight eight cardinal rules of gun safety that can keep you and your family safe.  

The Cardinal Rules of Firearm Safety

Always assume a gun is loaded. Why? Because assuming a gun is not loaded is precisely how many gun-related accidents occur. Even if you are sure there is no ammunition in the chamber, you should always visually check to verify. Responsible gun operators will always unload a firearm when not in use.  

Don’t point your gun at anything you do not want to shoot. Accidental shootings can be significantly reduced if operators take care to point the muzzle away from people, animals or anything they do not intend to kill. If a discharge does occur unexpectedly, there will be a higher chance of avoiding serious injury. It is critical to keep in mind what is beyond the trajectory of a bullet. Whether a purposeful shot or not, bullets can travel through walls and floors, ricochet and cause injury to other people.   

Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Prevent accidents by making it a habit to keep your finger resting on the side of the gun, rather than on the trigger. This one habit alone can help you avoid accidental discharges that result in injury.

Keep your gun maintained and serviced. You probably wouldn’t go on a road trip with a car that hasn’t been serviced in years. So, why would you use a gun that hasn’t been adequately cleaned or maintained? If you are unsure of how to do this yourself, consult a professional gunsmith to inspect, clean and adjust your firearm.

Never leave your gun unattended. Do not risk a child, inexperienced family member or criminal taking possession of your firearm. Have a system in place for securing and storing your gun. Taking extra precautions can mean the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.

Wear eye and ear protection. Whenever you shoot a gun, take precautions to protect yourself. Some of the most common usage injuries from shooting a firearm include hearing loss and eye damage. Guns are very loud and repeated firing without ear protection can lead to severe hearing loss in the future. Firearms also emit particles and gas that can cause injury to your eyes and vision loss.

Use the correct ammunition. Guns are not meant to be used with just any type of ammo. Check the owner’s manual or the barrel of the gun to learn which kind of ammunition should be used with your firearm. Using incorrect ammo could result in damage to the gun or injury to yourself or others.

Never use a gun under the influence of any substances. The misuse of a firearm can result in serious consequences. Under no circumstances should a gun be used by someone who is under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any other substance that impairs judgment. Even the most experienced gun users can make a mistake when drugs or alcohol cloud their thinking.

Firearm Safety is Your Responsibility

No matter if you are at the shooting range or in your home, safety should be your number one priority when handling or operating a firearm. Besides following these cardinal rules of firearm safety, many hunting and shooting classes are available to teach you how to be safe when using a firearm. It is your responsibility to know how to operate your gun and keep it secure for the safety of yourself and your family.   

When you need security personnel who aim higher

Call Off Duty Officers, Inc. to find out how we can serve your business.

Off Duty Officers, Inc. provides armed and unarmed, off duty law enforcement and security personnel for both short- and long-term assignments. Contact us for an instant

Our experience means your safety.

Trade Show Security: 5 Tips to Keep Your Event Safe

Trade shows can be incredible opportunities to network, market new and existing businesses and learn about the latest trends in an industry. These events attract thousands of people, including some high-profile individuals such as celebrities, executives and politicians. With this amount of exposure, trade shows can be magnets for serious security concerns that could put thousands of attendees in harm’s way.

All too often, we see violence carried out against innocent people like concertgoers, runners and commuters, to name a few. We never know when or where a horrific attack will occur. With this uncertainty, event managers must take the security of their events seriously. Making security a priority will not only show attendees that the event producers care about their safety, but it will demonstrate the professionalism of the event itself.

Unfortunately, many trade show producers put security on the bottom of their lists. In the world we live in today, a lack of attention to event security is no longer an option. If you are planning a trade show or large event, consider the following five guidelines for successful trade show security in our modern world.

5 Guidelines for Trade Show Security

Hire security experts.

Event producers are not necessarily security experts. It is essential to hire a professional security company that has experience handling an event of your size and the types of security threats that you might expect. Allow the security experts to assess your event beforehand to determine appropriate staffing for the venue, number of attendees and type of event.

Many event producers leave security preparations for the end of the planning process, once all of the event arrangements and logistics have been set. Unfortunately, this can be problematic. The security experts will be forced to make do with the logistics that have already been determined, and these might not be best from a security standpoint. To avoid costly changes or weaknesses in your security plan, bring in security experts at the beginning of the planning process.

Make a budget for security.

After consulting with a professional security company, you will have a better idea of what needs to be done to ensure the safety and security of your event. It is important to set aside the appropriate amount of money in your budget for security personnel and other security measures.

With the threats of terrorism and active shooter events regularly on the news, your security measures should not be bare bones. This may mean cutting back in other areas like catering or marketing. However, when people’s lives and your reputation are on the line, no amount of money should be spared.

Screen all guests and staff.

The largest trade shows may have thousands of people coming in and out of the venue each day, including exhibitors, guests, vendors and staff. Due to these high volumes, it is critical to have a robust screening process for all who enter the building.

The first step is to have clear credentials for all guests, including staff. Proper identification will allow you to monitor access to the event and manage access to restricted areas. Trade show producers can take other steps to screen visitors such as:

  • Installing walk-through metal detectors
  • Requiring visual inspections of bags
  • Metal-detecting wands to inspect bags and other items brought into the venue
  • Limiting the number of entrances to the site
  • Utilizing K-9 security sweeps

Consider the use of cameras and other technology.

Security measures like those mentioned above are effective. However, it will not be possible for security personnel to monitor all areas of the venue at all times. Security cameras and other security technology can help fill in those gaps.

The mere presence of cameras throughout the venue can deter would-be criminals from perpetrating crimes like theft or vandalism. When cameras capture a crime or attack taking place, event producers have a better chance of identifying and catching the perpetrator.

Prepare for medical emergencies.

Crime and violence are not the only emergencies that can occur at a large trade show or event. With thousands of people in one place, there is always a chance that a serious medical emergency could occur. Smart event producers will always have a medical crew on site and ready to respond to medical events such as falls, heart attacks, allergy attacks or other medical conditions.

All staff should know what to do and who to contact in the event of a medical emergency. Telephone numbers for the nearest hospital, police department and fire department should be easily accessible to all staff and security personnel.

Prepare Your Trade Show for Success

Although it isn’t possible to predict a medical or security emergency at a big trade show or event, the most successful event producers recognize the importance of preparation. If you are planning a trade show, be sure that your security plan is number one on your list. Not only will having proper security measures in place give you peace of mind, it will also ensure the best possible experience for all who attend.

When you need security personnel who aim higher

Call Off Duty Officers, Inc. to find out how we can serve your business.

Off Duty Officers, Inc. provides armed and unarmed, off duty law enforcement and security personnel for both short- and long-term assignments. Contact us for an instant

Our experience means your safety.

20 Tips for Staying Safe During a Hurricane

The threat of a hurricane can be scary for those living in hurricane-prone areas along the southern and eastern coasts of the United States. As a hurricane makes its way toward land, residents of these areas are faced with the unknown. The possibility of losing their homes, the destruction of their property and the physical danger to their families are genuine risks. 

In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, which caused massive destruction in the Bahamas and damage along the East Coast of North America, the need to be prepared for extreme weather is clear. If you live in a hurricane zone, there are certain preparations you can make beforehand to help protect your home and your family. Making preparations before a hurricane hits and knowing what to do during and after a big storm can give you and your family the best chance of coming out safe and sound.

20 Tips for Hurricane Safety

Recent hurricanes like Katrina, Sandy, Irma, Harvey and Dorian left a trail of devastation. But unlike other extreme weather, hurricanes can be tracked several days in advance. Tracking gives residents living in the storm’s path some time to prepare and take the necessary precautions. Still, you never know when a hurricane will hit. While September is the most common month for hurricanes to touch land, hurricane season actually runs from June through November.

Are you concerned about hurricane safety? Do you have a safety plan for before, during and after a massive hurricane? Read on to learn how you can keep your home and family secure during a dangerous storm.

Pre-season Hurricane Preparation Tips

Create a hurricane emergency kit. Have an easily transportable bag or container ready to go with the necessary supplies you might need in an evacuation. Some useful emergency items include a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, tools, cash and medications.

Have an evacuation plan. If you must evacuate your home, all family members must know exactly what to do and where to go. Assign each family member a role and establish a designated meeting place. Make sure your family is familiar with the evacuation route in case communication is impossible.

Organize your important documents. Valuable documents such as passports and birth certificates should be kept in a waterproof folder that is easily accessible and in a known location to all family members.

Stock up on food and water. You never know how destructive a hurricane will be and what resources will be unavailable. Include a supply of non-perishable food and bottled water with your emergency kit. Be sure to have several day’s worth of supplies for each member of your family.

Prepare your home. The best time to make sure that your home is as safe and secure as possible is before hurricane season hits. There are many precautions you can take to fortify your home in advance, such as obtaining comprehensive insurance, purchasing supplies to reinforce doors and windows and installing a generator. 

What to Do During a Hurricane Warning  

Reinforce windows and doors. Secure windows, doors and other openings with plywood or specialty storm shutters to increase their stability. Windows and doors are especially susceptible to high winds and floodwaters.

Fuel up your vehicles. Be sure that your vehicles have a full tank of fuel before the storm. In the event that you must evacuate, you will be able to leave the area quickly without worrying about gas shortages along the evacuation route.

Sign up for hurricane alerts. FEMA and local authorities will issue hurricane notifications and updates. Make sure that you sign up to receive these alerts, so you are kept up-to-date on evacuation requirements and procedures.

Clear large outdoor items. Take preventative measures by removing or securing outdoor furniture, large branches, trash cans or any other loose items that could become hazards during high winds and heavy rains.

Have all emergency and food supplies handy. Your emergency kit and food supplies won’t be any good if they are not easily accessible. Make sure that you keep these resources in an easily accessible location where they can be quickly grabbed if needed.

What to Do During a Hurricane

Evacuate when ordered. Always abide by calls to evacuate your area immediately. Do not think you can outlast the storm. Evacuations are called for a reason – to keep people safe.

Stay away from windows and doors. Winds and floodwaters can break windows and blow in doors. Secure yourself in an interior, windowless room that is on the lower level of your home.

Do not go outside. Wait until you get the all-clear from authorities before going outside. Remember that calm weather does not always indicate that the storm has passed. It can mean that you are in the eye of the storm and that there is more to come. 

Avoid contact with electrical devices. The risk of electrocution is high during a hurricane. Turn off large appliances and avoid anything with an electric current until given clearance from the authorities.

After the hurricane has passed, there are still many safety threats that residents face as they return to their homes and communities. Follow these basic rules after a hurricane: 

  • Wait for clearance from authorities before returning to your home.
  • Avoid walking in flooded areas.
  • Avoid driving in flooded areas.
  • Avoid downed power lines.
  • Take care when re-entering your home for weak floorboards and crumbling roofs.
  • Do not drink tap water. 

Be Prepared for the Next Big Hurricane

A hurricane can be devastating. Be sure that you take precautions before hurricane season starts by gathering the necessary supplies, creating a plan and fortifying your home. Preparation and knowledge are the keys to keeping your family safe and your property secure. 

When you need security personnel who aim higher

Call Off Duty Officers, Inc. to find out how we can serve your business.

Off Duty Officers, Inc. provides armed and unarmed, off duty law enforcement and security personnel for both short- and long-term assignments. Contact us for an instant

Our experience means your safety.