CHARLESTON, W.Va. — October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and West Virginia’s Office of Technology is taking the opportunity to teach others how not to become a victim of cyber theft.

The WVOT is hosting an Information Security Conference Wednesday free of charge for the public and state agencies. The goal, according to the state’s chief technology officer, is to help people learn how to protect themselves and their devices.

“We try to provide information on how you protect passwords. They should be strong. They should be lengthy. They should have a combination of letters, numbers and symbols,” said Gail Given.

The guest speakers at the one-day event feature cyber information specialists from the FBI, Office of Homeland Security and private businesses.

Given said data breaches like the ones at Target and, most recently, at Dairy Queen take up a lot of headlines. But in reality, when you consider the number of companies out there, breaches aren’t that common.

“I think the fact that we have a breach now and then shows there are a lot of good policies and procedures in place to prevent most of it. Frankly, people are trying to break in to pretty much every system all the time,” according to Given.

She said the criminals are using every advantage they can take to hack into servers and steal things like social security numbers, bank accounts and credit card information. They’re working hard to make you the victim.

“I don’t think it’s easy. I think what we have to remember is that the entities that are trying to steal the information, they’re spending their entire day to try and steal your information,” explained Given. “They have smart people, they have a lot of time and they’re very dedicated to what they’re trying to do.”

However, Given said if individuals and agencies put new security practices into place and are vigilant, the criminals won’t be able to profit.

For more tips on how to keep your information safe, go to

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  • ViennaGuy

    For a secure password:

    1. Use a minimum of 12 characters.
    2. Use at least one capital letter, one lower-case letter, one number, and one special character(asterisk, dollar sign, pound sign, period, etc.).

    Following these two rules means that a hacker will have to figure out a password from 10 octillion possibilities. 10 octillion is 10 followed by 28 zeroes.

    Further, do not use the same password for multiple sites, accounts, etc. Use random characters in passwords rather than easily-guessed phrases.

    Strong passwords can be a challenge and a drag, but they are also a necessity. Google NIST Special Publication 800-118 for more information on how to make your password secure.

    One problem with strong passwords is that many websites are not built to handle them; such sites limit you to six or eight characters, and they further limit you to letters and numbers - a very poor design from a security standpoint. In that case, there's not much you can do about it, other than not use the site or complain to the site owners.

  • Paul Hill

    WHERE and WHEN

  • Stupid Hillbillies

    Noticeably absent were representatives from NSA - the largest domestic "hackers" in existence.