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As National Cyber Security Awareness Month Approaches, Internet Users Are Reminded Why Being Cyber Smart is Critical to Our Lives

While Global Concern Grows about Data Security, Action and Awareness Lag Behind; National Cyber Security Alliance Issues Call to Action to Stay #CyberAware

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WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 17, 2015 – It is just two weeks until National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) on October 1, and the stage is set for a massive global effort to impact millions of Internet users on the importance of online safety and security. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance founded and now lead NCSAM. All digital citizens  – from consumers and small- and medium-sized businesses to multinationals, educational institutions and nonprofits – will be encouraged to increase their awareness about safe Internet use.  

With more than one billion data records compromised worldwide and 348 million U.S. Internet users’ identities exposed in breaches during 2014[2], NCSAM is calling for intensified vigilance from Internet users everywhere to protect their personal information. Check out NCSA’s infographic, “Securing the Internet is Our Shared Responsibility,” to learn more about themes, tips and how to get engaged.

“It’s virtually impossible to manage our lives and responsibilities without relying on the Internet. It is the foundation under much of what we do – from shopping to monitoring health and home to turning in homework and keeping in touch with friends and family ‒ we depend on being connected 24/7,” said Michael Kaiser, Executive Director, NCSA. “As much as we have come to rely on technology, we do so with the understanding that it is not risk-free. Cyber threats and data breaches continue and the loss of personal information, privacy, and the real world consequences of the impact of cyber incidents have everyone’s attention. National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a collective effort by government, industry and civil society to ensure everyone is taking steps to be safer online. This starts with actionable advice for everyone, such as turning on two-factor authentication on email accounts, not clicking on suspicious links, using public WiFi wisely and thinking twice about posting personal information online.”

To bridge the knowledge and action gap, NCSA is asking Internet users everywhere to be more #CyberAware by making at least one STOP. THINK. CONNECT. practice a part of their everyday, online routines:

  • Keep a clean machine: Keeping all web-connected devices ‒ including PCs, mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets ‒ free from malware and infections makes the Internet safer for you and more secure for everyone.
  • Get two steps ahead: Turn on two-step authentication ‒ also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication ‒ on accounts where available.
  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, posts and texts are often the ways cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.
  • Think before you app: Review the privacy policy and understand what data (such as location and entry to your social networks) the app can access on your device before you download. Delete apps you are no longer using.
  • Make a better password: Improve your defenses by making passwords that you can remember and are hard to guess for others. Preferably use numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and symbols that are different for all accounts.
  • Post only about others what you would have them post about you. It’s the golden rule on the Internet, too.

Staying Safe Online Is a Global Challenge
Expanding its global footprint, NCSAM 2015 is bringing STOP.THINK.CONNECT., the preeminent international cybersecurity education and awareness campaign message, to an ever-growing audience. More than 325 NCSAM Champions will play an active role in sharing important cybersecurity messages with their local communities, corporations, governments and individuals internationally. Countries in Latin America and Europe, as well as Australia and Canada, will promote the month ‒ impacting millions by sharing the vital message to stay safe and secure online. STOP.THINK.CONNECT. has more than 260 partners, including organizations in 24 countries and three multi-country regional organizations.

“Through its various partners, events and initiatives around the world, National Cyber Security Awareness Month focuses on building a global culture of cybersecurity that makes the Internet safer and more trusted,” said Jacqueline Beauchere, Chief Online Safety Officer, Microsoft and Chair of NCSA’s Board of Directors. “By working together to uphold our theme of ‘shared responsibility,’ we can better protect the Internet, an essential resource for our community, our economy and our personal and professional lives.”

Several noteworthy national and international initiatives to look out for this October include: 

  • Join In and Support European Cyber Security Month (ECSM) in the EU. ECSM is an advocacy campaign that encourages good cybersecurity practices among citizens by promoting data and information security and education. The European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA), the European Commission DG CONNECT and partners continue to raise awareness, launch local activities and inspire support and participation. To get involved, visit cybersecuritymonth.eu or enisa.europa.eu.
  • Register Now for the Canadian Institute’s Cyber Security for Critical Infrastructure conference, September 29 – 30 in Toronto, ON. Global cyberattacks on critical infrastructure continue to increase in frequency and severity and Canada is by no means exempt. The country's ten pillars of critical infrastructure have to protect themselves from hacktivism, state sponsored attacks, cyber terrorism, industrial espionage and other damaging emerging threats. Antiquated strategies, such as anti-viruses and firewalls are no longer a match for the hackers of today. Click here to learn more: canadianinstitute.com/cybersecurity/.
  • Attend the 4th Annual U.S. Chamber of Commerce Cybersecurity Summit on October 6 in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pleased to host the Fourth Annual Cybersecurity Summit to explore the latest threat landscape, market-based and public-private solutions and the new framework. The summit will feature speakers from the business community, international experts, the administration and Congress. Additional information and registration here
  • CyberFest 2015: The Urban Jungle Comes to San Diego on October 8. Our world has rapidly transformed to become The Urban Jungle where individuals and organizations are connected to the Internet nearly 100 percent of the time. While there are huge up-sides to the connectivity, there is a need for increased responsibilities at both a personal and business level. Learn about current events and the potential global impact from this year’s keynote address speakers, Tom Ridge and Howard Schmidt of Ridge-Schmidt Cyber. To learn more, visit sdccoe.org/event/cyberfest2015-the-urban-jungle.
  • Attend the Privacy + Security Forum in Washington, D.C., October 21 – 23. A High-Caliber Event with Real-World Lessons and Practical Takeaways. The Privacy + Security Forum offers an intellectual discourse that reaches across the separate silos of privacy and security. Privacy professionals, security professionals, chief information officers, law firm attorneys, policymakers, academics, experts from NGOs and think tanks, and technologists connect and collaborate in a rigorous learning environment. Visit privacyandsecurityforum.com to learn more.

Learn more about upcoming NCSAM events (and submit events to the calendar) at staysafeonline.org/ncsam/events.

@STOPTHNKCONNECT will host a pre-NCSAM Twitter chat, "Get Ready for #CyberAware Month 2015," to discuss what NCSAM is all about, what's coming up this October and how you can learn more and get involved. Join the discussion on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT using the hashtag #ChatSTC.

During the entire month of October, you can follow the conversation and get the breaking news on the month’s activities using NCSAM’s new official hashtag, #CyberAware, on social media, and join weekly #ChatSTC Twitter chats every Thursday at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT. Additionally, NCSA has created sample social media posts that you can download and share leading up to and throughout the month. Additional resources (infographics, tip sheets and more) and information on getting involved and becoming a NCSAM Champion are available at staysafeonline.org/ncsam. And be sure to check out NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser’s new post on the Stay Safe Online blog 

About The National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation's leading nonprofit public-private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the Internet and digital privacy. Working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), private sector sponsors and nonprofit collaborators to promote cybersecurity awareness, NCSA board members include representatives from ADP, AT&T, Bank of America, BlackBerry, Comcast Corporation, EMC Corporation, ESET, Facebook, Google, Intel, Logical Operations, Microsoft, PayPal, PKWARE, Raytheon, Symantec, Verizon and Visa. Through collaboration with the government, corporate, nonprofit and academic sectors, NCSA's mission is to educate and empower digital citizens to use the Internet securely and safely, protect themselves and the technology they use, and safeguard the digital assets we all share. NCSA leads initiatives for STOP.THINK.CONNECT., a global cybersecurity awareness campaign to help all digital citizens stay safer and more secure online; Data Privacy Day, celebrated annually on January 28 and National Cyber Security Awareness Month, launched every October. For more information on NCSA, please visit staysafeonline.org/about-us/overview/.

About STOP. THINK. CONNECT.
STOP. THINK. CONNECT. is the national cybersecurity education and awareness campaign. The campaign was created by an unprecedented coalition of private companies, non-profits and government organizations with leadership provided by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG).  The Department of Homeland Security leads the federal engagement in the campaign. Learn how to get involved at STOPTHINKCONNECT.org




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