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A message from Arlene Yetnikoff, Chief Information Security Officer

December 12, 2023

As we all head into this holiday season, I want to encourage everyone to take precautions against scams that seem to escalate this time of year. Members of the Institute community should ensure they have basic protections on their personal accounts and give each email or text they receive a higher level of scrutiny to be sure to avoid scams and identity theft. To best protect yourself and others and others at the Institute, here are a few cybersecurity tips and best practices to follow:

Tip # 1. Protect your important accounts with a unique, complex password for each account. All financial, email and social media accounts should be protected this way.

- Enable multi-factor authentication, or two-step verification if it is offered.

- Do not reuse important passwords.

Tip # 2. Use a password manager to help generate and safely store your complex passwords. Many password managers can also store other sensitive types of data - like credit card information. Caltech employees can use 1Password at no charge. Bitwarden is another well-respected password manager that is free for personal use.

Tip # 3. For US citizens, create your government accounts before the criminals do. Sign up for your account with the Social Security Administration at and with the IRS at

Tip # 4. Beware of phishing scams. You'll receive texts and emails that purport to be from institutions you may know and ask you to click on links. Instead of clicking, navigate to the site in your browser and review any messages there.

Tip # 5. Set up alerts with your financial institution. Many offer the ability to alert you for unusual activity or for every transaction. Quick action to an alert can help avoid financial loss.

Tip # 6. Review your credit reports several times a year. The site will let you request a yearly report from each credit bureau. The site also offers a free way to check your credit report.

Tip # 7. If you do become a victim of identity theft, head to the FTC's site to learn how to report it and develop a recovery plan.

For additional information of Information Security, go to or send an email to IMSS Information Security at [email protected].

We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday season!