Since its inception under leadership from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, National Cyber Security Awareness Month has grown exponentially, reaching consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, corporations, educational institutions and young people across the nation. 2015 marks the 12th year of National Cyber Security Awareness Month.
With recent legislation and support from the White House, cybersecurity is continuously a popular topic of discussion and rightfully so. More specifically, there is even stronger focus on consumers and their cyber safety. Everyone at every age is a consumer, and thus this year each theme will focus on the consumer and his/her needs regarding cybersecurity and safety.
This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign. NCSAM 2015 will highlight the overall message of STOP. THINK. CONNECT. and the capstone concepts of the campaign: “Keep a Clean Machine,” “Protect Your Personal Information,” “Connect with Care,” “Be Web Wise” and “Be a Good Online Citizen.”
Here are some ways you can be Cyber Safe and Secure:
Keep a Clean Machine
- Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.
- Automate software updates: Many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that’s an available option.
- Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, your smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
- Plug & scan: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
Protect Your Personal Information
- Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you conduct business on that site.
- Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
- Unique account, unique password: Having separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
- Write it down and keep it safe: Everyone can forget a password. Keep a list that’s stored in a safe, secure place away from your computer.
- Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It’s ok to limit how and with whom you share information.
Connect with Care
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often the ways cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or, if appropriate, mark as junk email.
- Get savvy about WiFi hotspots: Limit the type of business you conduct and adjust the security settings on your device to limit who can access your machine.
- Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security-enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. “Http://” is not secure.
Be Web Wise
- Stay current. Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online. Check trusted websites for the latest information, share with friends, family and colleagues and encourage them to be web wise.
- Think before you act: Be wary of communications that implores you to act immediately, offers something that sounds too good to be true or asks for personal information.
- Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos, and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely.
Be a Good Online Citizen
- Safer for me, more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone – at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
- Post only about others as you have them post about you.
- Help the authorities fight cybercrime: Report stolen finances, identities and cybercrime to http://www.ic3.gov (the Internet Crime Complaint Center) and http://www.onguardonline.gov/file-complaint (the FTC).
For more about what you can do for Cyber Security Month and beyond, visit Homeland Security