National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) – celebrated every October - was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online.

Since its inception under leadership from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, NCSAM has grown exponentially, reaching consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, corporations, educational institutions and young people across the nation. 2015 marked 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. NCSAM 2015 also marked the fifth anniversary of the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. campaign. NCSAM 2015 highlighted 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.”

Presidential ProclamationPresident Barack Obama once again declared October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month for 2015. See the proclamation here.

Weekly ThemesNCSAM 2015 focused on a different cybersecurity issue for each week in October. 

Week 1: October 1-2
Five Years of STOP. THINK. CONNECT. – Best Practices for All Digital Citizens

Marking its fifth year on October 1, STOP. THINK. CONNECT. is simple, actionable advice that everyone can follow to stay safer and more secure online. STOP: make sure security measures are in place. THINK: about the consequences of your actions and behaviors online. CONNECT: and enjoy the Internet. NCSAM launched with a focus on making this basic advice a guiding principle so that we can navigate the Internet ‒ and our digital lives ‒ safely and more securely. 

Week 2: October 5-9
Creating a Culture of Cybersecurity at Work

Intrusions into America’s business and infrastructure networks pose economic and national security threats.  All businesses face a number of cybersecurity challenges like being the target of cybercriminals, having intellectual property stolen or being attacked to disrupt our way of life. Cybersecurity must become a priority for every business and every industry. Companies need to proactively protect their most vital assets, employees and customers. Employees have a shared responsibility to do their part ‒ especially as the traditional workplace changes with a mobile workforce, telecommuting and the blurring of lines between work and personal devices (BYOD). If a cybersecurity incident does occur, businesses need to readily respond, recover and collaborate with law enforcement by sharing threat information and aiding investigations. Week 2 focused on providing resources that help businesses establish a culture of cybersecurity. Emphasis focused on employee education, taking a risk management approach to cybersecurity and using tools like the DHS C3 Voluntary Program as an important first step.

Week 3: October 12-16
Connected Communities and Families: Staying Protected While We Are Always Connected

Cybersecurity means staying protected in our interconnected world. From banking and shopping to healthcare, social networking and downloading the latest apps ‒ we live robust, online lives. Wherever we are and however we access the digital world, every step we take to be safer will make ourselves, our families and our communities more secure. In our digital lives we may face any number of issues, from preventing or responding to cybercrime, cyberbullying and scams to teaching children to use the Internet safely, more securely and responsibly. We never use the Internet in isolation. Today, we are all digital citizens and need a strong knowledge base and skills to safely navigate our always-connected world. Week 3 shared simple ways we can protect ourselves and those around us along with what we can do if impacted by a breach, cybercrime or other issue. 

Week 4: October 19-23
Your Evolving Digital Life

In the 20th century, the Internet was about how an individual connects. In the 21st century, the Internet will evolve into how everything is connected to the Internet. Our cars are quickly morphing into “computers on wheels,” the fully connected home is nearly a reality and connected medical devices may offer tremendous benefits to our health and safety. However, securing all of these devices in the vast Internet ecosystem will be a new challenge. The more connected we become, the more interdependent we will be on one another and the country’s basic infrastructure ‒ which keeps the lights on and the water running and enables Internet access. Week 4 highlighted where we were, where we are today and how we can keep our digital lives safer and more secure with emerging technology. 

Week 5: October 26-30
Building the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals

One of the greatest risks to our cybersecurity is the shortage of professionals to protect the vast networks we are creating. The demand for cybersecurity experts is growing at three and a half times the pace of the overall IT job market. In addition to professionals whose jobs are to protect the Internet, the trend is for earlier adoption of technology by young people, including fully connected classrooms, access to mobile devices ‒ phones, tablets and laptops ‒ and more ways to socially connect with one another. It is essential that we graduate students entering the workforce and adulthood prepared to use technology safely, securely, ethically and productively. Week 5 provided valuable information about cybersecurity careers as well as the need for the ongoing Internet safety and security education toward building cyber-literate digital citizens.

STOP. THINK. CONNECT.Cybersecurity begins with a simple message everyone using the Internet can adopt: STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Take security and safety precautions, understand the consequences of your actions and behaviors online and enjoy the benefits of the Internet. 

Use National Cyber Security Awareness Month to begin incorporating STOP. THINK. CONNECT. into your online routine. For more ideas on promoting National Cyber Security Awareness Month, visit the Get Involved page.

Our Shared ResponsibilityWe lead Internet-connected, digital lives. From our desks and homes to on the go, we work, learn and play online. Even when we are not directly connected to the Internet, our critical infrastructure—the vast, worldwide connection of computers, data and websites supporting our everyday lives through financial transactions, transportation systems, healthcare records, emergency response systems, personal communications and more—impacts everyone.

Cybersecurity is the mechanism that maximizes our ability to grow commerce, communications, community and content in a connected world.

The Internet is a shared resource and securing it is Our Shared Responsibility. Our Shared Responsibility was once again our theme for National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015.

No individual, business or government entity is solely responsible for securing the Internet. Everyone has a role in securing their part of cyberspace, including the devices and networks they use. Individual actions have a collective impact and when we use the Internet safely, we make it more secure for everyone. If each of us does our part—implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating young people or training employees—together we will be a digital society safer and more resistant from attacks and more resilient if an attack occurs.