The Encouraging Girls Project

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Cyber Security Breach

Involved in a Cyber Security Breach? Critical Next Steps…

Anyone can be breached. No one is immune to a cyber attack. Therefore, it is vital to protect yourself at all times, particularly, if you share personal data on personal or corporate devices. Equifax is a perfect example of how even a trusted provider can be breached! It is absolutely necessary to try and stay one step ahead of identity thieves by following simple and smart tips to protect your sensitive information.

Find Out What Information Has Been Leaked

It is important to find out exactly what information has been leaked or stolen because some data are more sensitive than others. If you signed up for credit monitoring, for instance, and you receive that deadly email notifying you of a confirmed data breach or potential data breach, immediately seek the exact pieces of data that may have been compromised. Your next steps depend on whether the information is now available to cybercriminals and hackers. Having just your email address revealed might be annoying, but it is highly unlikely to lead to devastating consequences unless your password was also revealed. However, regardless of whether your password was revealed as well, it is imperative that you reset your email password to stop a flood of spam through your account. If the breach revealed other pertinent information you could be at greater risk. For example, if your Social Security number was been revealed, you are at high risk of identity theft because hackers could open fake bank and credit accounts in your name. Thus, knowing what was revealed as a result of the breach is a key first step.

Change Impacted Passwords Right Away!

Cybercriminals and identity thieves highly regard passwords as their prime target because they sell the compromised credentials on the dark web. Change your passwords immediately if they have been revealed in a data breach! It may not be enough to change the compromised password only at the impacted site, especially if you use the same password at multiple websites. If that is the case, change all those credentials immediately and while you are it, make sure that each site uses a unique credential to avoid recurrence.

Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication such as Duo Mobile Security or Authenticator by Microsoft provides an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a randomly generated code provided by the two-factor Authentication application as an extra step during the login process. Depending on the Two-factor authentication application used, the code could be sent to either your smartphone or displayed on an Android or iOS app. This extra level of security is in addition to your standard username and password to provide additional protection for all your web accounts. In the unfortunate event of a data breach, implementing two-factor authentication is a very wise and smart approach because even if a hacker or cybercriminal purchases your compromised credentials on the dark web, they will be unable to gain access to your web accounts without the extra layer of security you implemented.

Consider Using a Password Vault or Manager

It is very reckless and dangerous to use the same passwords at multiple sites. Instead, I recommend setting up a separate unique set of credentials for each site you visit. Unfortunately, it is cumbersome to keep track of all those unique user names and passwords. This challenge of having to remember credentials for each site could lead to the temptation of backsliding into the same old habits as soon as the current crisis passes. Therefore, strongly consider using a password vault or manager to protect all of your accounts and maintain online safety. Password vaults or managers create unique sets of encrypted credentials on demand and then keeps track of the information in an encrypted database. A single master password is all you need to access the vault that contains all the passwords, meaning that you only need to remember one set of credentials.

Sign Up for Transaction Alerts through Your Bank and/or Credit Monitoring Service

If it is confirmed or highly probable that your accounts may have been compromised, sign up for transaction alerts right away because they instantly notify you of purchases, withdrawals, and other account activities. The notifications could be sent to your designated smartphone or email address whenever a transaction or activity occurs in your account. Contact your bank right away if you did not authorize and do not recognize a transaction in your account.

Consider Freezing Your Credit Report

If you do not plan to apply for a loan or credit card in the near future and your account was confirmed to have been breached, consider freezing your credit report. Credit report freeze is a significant and necessary step to protect your identity and finances. A credit report freeze means that no one, including you, can access your file or open new accounts until it is lifted. The downside to freezing your credit report is that it could make applying for a mortgage or car loan, for instance very difficult. However, putting only a temporary freeze on your credit file might be less challenging if you do not need any extra in the interim.

Being a victim of a data breach can be your worst nightmare and certainly very frightening. However, prompt and swift action could help mitigate the impact or damage and prevent any issues from escalating or worsening. The actions you take in the unfortunate event of a data breach matters more than you comprehend because they could protect you from cybercriminals, hackers, identity thieves, and other bad actors.

Contact me for more information about how you can scan the dark web to see if your email address or sensitive information has been compromised and out there for sale by cybercriminals, hackers, and identity thieves.

Dr. Vivian Lyon, DIT, MSIT, MSc.IT, MBA
CIO & Founder, Plaza Dynamics
Connect with me on LinkedIn

Dr. Vivian Lyon's LinkedIn Profile

How to Use LinkedIn Effectively and Efficiently

Why Use LinkedIn?

According to LinkedIn, 9 out of 10 LinkedIn members are open to new opportunities.
LinkedIn Jobs matches roles to the most relevant candidates.
LinkedIn offers useful resources for job seekers.
LinkedIn provides information by acting as billboards to highlight unique value propositions.
LinkedIn makes your information public for recruiters.

Sign Up for LinkedIn

Navigate to, enter your first name, last name, and email address in the indicated area, and create a password. offers two membership tiers: Basic and Premium. The Basic account offers messaging, profile creation, and job postings application features, while the Premium tier offers four subcategories with added features and resources, each at its own cost: Premium Career, Sales Navigator, Recruiter Lite, Premium Business, and LinkedIn Learning to expand your online presence and let you get more out of the service.

Choose a Professional Photo

Make a good first impression on anyone who views your profile by choosing a professional-looking photo rather than a casual shot. The picture does not necessarily have to be an expensive headshot, but care should be taken when selecting the right clothes, lighting, background, etc., for your LinkedIn profile picture.

Write a Good Profile Summary

Create a LinkedIn profile summary, particularly if you are interested in new job opportunities as a great chance to highlight your profile and put your best foot forward. The LinkedIn profile summary section has a character limit, therefore make the best of it by writing three to five short paragraphs about your background. I recommend leaving plenty of white spaces to enable the section to be readable, otherwise, visitors to your profile may glaze over the section when viewing your page. Avoid using jargon, controversial or unprofessional statements as well as typos and sloppy writing as they will send the wrong signals. Rather use short and tight sentences.

Improve and Tweak Your Profile

Besides the character-limited profile summary, your LinkedIn profile should include your work experience, education, skills and licenses, endorsements and recommendations from others in your network, and any voluntary experiences. The information you post about yourself in your profile contains searchable keywords that search engines and recruiters look for, therefore, include buzzwords in your profile summary, current job titles, former job titles, skills and interests that can help you stand out and get found on LinkedIn.

Request LinkedIn Recommendations

LinkedIn allows you to request recommendations directly from specific LinkedIn connections. Therefore, ask for recommendations from people in your network as they are a great way to boost your LinkedIn profile and make it stand out. Recommendations from Positive recommendations written by previous employers, clients, or colleagues are particularly powerful because they show recruiters your strengths and what kind of employee you are.

Use LinkedIn Endorsements

Use endorsements to quickly and easily show viewers of your profile and your professional contacts where your expertise and strengths lie.

Include Your LinkedIn Profile Address on Your Resume

LinkedIn assigns a default URL that can be customized with something more meaningful such as your full name; first and last name. To customize your LinkedIn URL, click the “Me” icon at the top right-hand of your LinkedIn homepage and select “View profile” from the drop-down menu. On the right-hand side of the page, click “Edit public profile & URL.” If the URL that contains your first and last name is unavailable, try including your middle initial, your full middle name or a number. Include your LinkedIn URL on your resume because it makes it easy for recruiters and prospective employers to visit your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you, your qualifications and skills.

Keep Your LinkedIn Profile Updated Regularly

It is critical to ensure that your LinkedIn profile is regularly updated to increase visibility. However, I do not recommend updating your LinkedIn profile to reflect that you’re unemployed even if you are, because it might have a negative impact on your job search. DO NOT state things like “Actively seeking …” or “Currently unemployed…” Rather, presenting yourself in a positive light to networking contacts and prospective employers might boost your chances of getting hired or considered for a job. It is important to have a proper LinkedIn headline whether you are happily employed or not. Therefore, if you are happily employed, simply state your current job title. If you happily employed but looking to transition to a new role; state your current title and 2 other titles you might be interested in transitioning to. However, if you are unemployed and actively looking; state three job titles you might desire. For instance, Director of Business Development, VP of Information Technology, Chief Information Officer. LinkedIn has an optional section where you can include these 3 titles to show that you are “Open to New Opportunities”. You can also add #ONO to your list of hashtags. It is very important to make it clear to recruiters and potential employers, the type of roles you are looking to fulfill to avoid recruiters spamming you with unwanted or undesired job advances. Show that you are SERIOUS and mean BUSINESS.

Sending Messages and Invitations

Upon successfully signing up for a LinkedIn account and creating a complete profile, begin building a network of contacts, for example, with work colleagues, classmates, professional contacts, anybody of interest, etc. Send out connection requests to people who meet your objectives. Keep connection messages professional and on point to increase your rate of acceptance or response.

How Big Should Your Network Be?

The size of your network depends on your objective. However, it is more important to focus on the quality of your connection than the actual number of connections. In other words, focus on using your LinkedIn network as an effective tool for job searching, career networking, or business prospects. I recommend connecting with people that are relevant to your line of work and could potentially lead you to a job opportunity, provide endorsements, recommendations, or valuable advice.

Applying for Jobs on LinkedIn

LinkedIn has a job board that allows job seekers to search and apply for jobs directly. You can perform targeted searches using the company and advanced people finders to narrow your scope to exact or close matches. The search filter also allows you to search by location, industry, dated posted or experience level to get more specific search results. You might be able to contact the recruiter directly to get further details about the advertised position or ask your LinkedIn connections to recommend or refer you for a job.

Searching Company Profiles

Visit LinkedIn company profiles to find out more information about companies of interest. LinkedIn will show you connections that work at those companies, their statistics, affiliated companies, jobs posted, insights, and company news.

Using the LinkedIn Mobile App

LinkedIn has a Mobile App for when you are on the move with great features that include searching and viewing personal and company profiles, inviting new connections, browsing LinkedIn posts, asking for recommendations, profile update capabilities, sending and receiving messages, and resume uploads to job openings.

Avoid Scammers

As with other networking sites, please, watch out for scammers!

Dr. Vivian Lyon, DIT, MSIT, MSc.IT, MBA
CIO & Founder, Plaza Dynamics
Connect with me on LinkedIn

Sherese Bernard

Obstacles I Overcame


Hi, my name is Sherese Bernard, and I have overcome many obstacles in my life. Teen pregnancy, High school dropout, and public assistance from the government.

I became a mother at 16 years old to a beautiful daughter who had both her mother and her father (we were in love). The thing was no one told me or us we had to support a baby. I had to forge documents (Not happy about it) so that I could lie so temp agencies would think I was 18 years old so I could work 4 to 8 hours a day. I am lucky that my daughter’s grandmother would watch her so that I could work. Every week I would cash a check for $100 from working 20 hours a week. The whole check went to transportation and my daughter’s needs. Which means I could not possibly go to school.

As my daughter got older (about four years old) I decided that I cannot enroll my daughter into kindergarten and watch her graduate and I have not graduated from high school (what type of mom would I be). So, I signed up for a mommy and me GED program in South Jamaica Queens Multi-Service Center. The program gave parenting advice, as well. They told me to sign up for public assistance and to stay on until I am done with getting my GED.  I can then get a real job, so I applied. I was able to bring my daughter with me to school as they had board-certified baby sitters that stayed with the children while you went to class on the premises. As I went to class, there were only four rooms. One room was the main room for the children, the office, a reading room, and a math room.

Ms. Gail taught reading, and Ms. Zinoba taught Math (I will always remember them). They pushed me as the program was for teen moms, which meant that when I turned 21 if I did not receive my GED, I could not stay in the program. I worked so hard that I took the GED test twice. The first time I took the test, it was just a trial to see how much knowledge I retained. Keep in mind that the passing grade was 225. My first try I received a 222. I was upset, but I kept pushing. I knew exactly which area I needed help in science (can you believe that) so I worked hard for the next few months so that when I took the test the next time, I would be ready. Six months later, I took the test I was ready. I went to the testing location (I remember it like it was yesterday). I walked in with all the confidence in the world because I had Ms. Zinoba and Ms.Gail cheering me on. When I left the testing room, I knew that I passed. A few weeks later, my daughter comes home with a letter about her kindergarten graduation, and I received a letter in the mail. I was so scared to open it. I knew in an instant just looking at the envelope because the GED was attached to the results 232 (passing the envelope is blue failing the envelope is white). I Passed!

Our graduations were in days of each other. My daughter’s graduation was on Monday, and mine was on Wednesday. Everyone attended my daughter’s graduation, and afterward, we had lunch there we all talked about seeing me again at my graduation on Wednesday. I told everyone I had a surprise for them.

My graduation who would believe the day would come where I would be marching in with a cap and gown on. I did it! I was so excited, but what my family did not know, including my daughter that I was valedictorian class of 1995(Surprise).  I had the highest GED score in my class. I had to give a speech. I was so scared my knees were knocking, my teeth were chattering, and my hands were sweaty. I walked across that stage, and I said my speech (I do not remember it). I read it from a paper. The only regret that I have is that I never looked up from the paper (I was too scared). Afterward, everyone in the room stood up, cheered, and clapped for me as I trembled across the stage back to my seat. I knew then what I had to work on next speaking in large groups.

So, Hi again, my name is Sherese Bernard, and I hold a Masters Degree in Information System, from Walden University Working toward my Doctoral Degree in Information System.  There is no obstacle too big or too small that I will not get over. To all the people that said I could not do it, I wish they could see me now. My message to you is never to let any obstacle get in the way of bettering yourself.

Tell me about an obstacle that you faced?

Was the obstacle hard to overcome?

Sherese Bernard WWIT, President


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Join the conversation


Technology, our ability to understand it and use it, is an important tool for anyone to compete for jobs in our increasingly global business economy. As most of us know all too well, the percentage of women in the technology field is significantly low compared to males in the same field. Girls will shape the future of Technology!! Get involved! Finish this sentence…., If more girls/women were in technology…..