Connected devices are attacked within 5 minutes by malicious actors, once plugged into the internet. As we bring more internet-connected devices into our homes and businesses, practicing cybersecurity can feel like an overwhelming task. However, the increase of connected devices in our lives only makes it more critical for us to understand and practice good cyber hygiene.
Now in its 17th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month emphasizes personal accountability, and highlights every individual’s role in protecting their part of cyberspace.
Celebrated every October, Cybersecurity Awareness Month is a public-private effort, co-led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), created to ensure all Americans have the information they need to stay safer and more secure online.
This October, Cybersecurity Awareness Month encourages everyone to “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart,” with a particular focus on protecting internet-connected smart devices such as phones, watches, appliances and toys. More connected devices provide more opportunities for malicious actors, but if you “do your part” in protecting your online life, you can significantly reduce your risk of a cyberattack. Through free, downloadable resources, including tip sheets, infographics and videos, NCSA and CISA are helping individuals, families and organizations of all sizes stay safer online.
Countless organizations and individuals across the globe will join NCSA and CISA in promoting cybersecurity best practices and actionable tips through educational materials, articles, events, social media campaigns and more, empowering all digital citizens to proactively improve their online safety. Want to get your organization more involved? Learn how you can become a Cybersecurity Awareness Month Champion.
Cybersecurity starts with you. Learn about your connected devices and put some best practices in place. Get started with these simple, proactive tips.
- Keep tabs on your apps – Most connected appliances, toys and devices come with a mobile application. Your mobile device could have suspicious apps running in the background, or using default permissions you unintentionally approved. Check the developer of apps before downloading to make sure they come from legitimate sources and uninstall apps you no longer use.
- Own your online presence – When you download a new app, check the security and privacy settings before doing anything else. Configure those settings to your comfort level. The default settings may allow for more information sharing than you’re comfortable with.
- Share with care – Think before posting about yourself, or others, online. Consider what a post reveals and who might see it. An easy way to stay safe is to make your social media accounts private. Also consider creating an alternate persona to use for online accounts and limit how much personal information you share, especially when setting up security questions.
- Think before you click – Keep an eye out for phishing emails. They aren’t always obvious. If you’re unsure who an email is from, do not respond. A couple of red flags: a sense of urgency (requesting you act quickly), requesting you to submit sensitive information like login credentials, social security number, credit card information, etc., or the email address doesn’t match the organization’s domain (for example, the email might appear to be from your bank, but the sender used an @gmail.com account to send you the email).
- When in doubt, throw it out – Once you spot a phishy-looking email, the best thing to do is to report the email as spam and trash it immediately.
- Lock down your login – Passwords are simply not enough to protect your accounts. Enable 2-factor authentication, or multi-factor authentication, on all accounts that offer it to add another layer of security to your accounts. This is especially important on email, bank accounts or other websites with sensitive information. It only takes a few minutes to enable and could save you the headache of dealing with compromised accounts in the future.
- Get savvy about wi-fi hotspots – Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure. Anyone could potentially see what you’re doing on your device while connected to them. Limit what you do on public wi-fi and avoid logging in to key accounts like email and bank accounts. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) or a personal hotspot for a more secure connection.
- Keep a clean machine – Don’t ignore those software updates. Up-to-date software improves the performance of your devices and also improves your security. If you need help remembering to update, set up automatic updates.