October marks the 14th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), a collaborative effort co-founded and led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help people understand how they can be safer and more secure online. NCSAM reminds people of our shared responsibility to protect the internet and the role each of us can play in strengthening our cybersecurity.
This year, we at NCSA are thrilled to kick off what we hope is a bigger than ever NCSAM, as cybersecurity becomes an ever more global issue. For the first time ever, NCSAM will kick off with a global launch event at the Organization of American States’ (OAS’) headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3. This event will highlight the international adoption of Cyber Security Awareness Month and discussions on a variety of topics, including how to keep all global digital citizens safer and more secure online and how governments and the private sector can collaborate in their online safety efforts, and look ahead to the benefits of a globally secure internet. The day’s events will be translated into multiple languages and streamed live online so that digital citizens from around the world can join the conversation. We hope you’ll tune in!
Throughout this NCSAM – as in years past – we will highlight a number of cybersecurity issues, such as career opportunities and workforce development, awareness and education in the workplace and the growing Internet of Things, and provide a variety of resources for you to use to educate yourself, your loved ones, your employees and colleagues and your community about online safety and security. At the heart of the campaign, however, is STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ –simple, actionable advice that anyone can follow by taking security precautions, thinking about the consequences of their actions online and enjoying the benefits of the internet. STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, the global cybersecurity education and awareness campaign, provides helpful resources like tip sheets, infographics and videos that are free to download and share – check them out here.
Each week of NCSAM has a theme, based on a different cybersecurity topic or trend. This week we’re focusing on STOP. THINK. CONNECT. ™ and the simple steps to online safety and security. Here are seven tips for improving your own cyber hygiene – and helping secure the internet for digital citizens around the world. (Check them out in infographic or tip sheet form and download and/or share on social media!)
- Lock down your login: Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media. Strengthen online accounts and use strong authentication tools – like biometrics, security keys or a unique, one-time code through an app on your mobile device – whenever offered.
- Keep a clean machine: Keep all software on internet-connected devices – including personal computers, smartphones and tablets – current to reduce risk of infection from ransomware and malware.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to compromise your information. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or, if appropriate, mark as junk.
- Back it up: Protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making an electronic copy and storing it safely. If you have a copy of your data and your device falls victim to ransomware or other cyber threats, you will be able to restore the data from a backup.
- Own your online presence: Set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It is OK to limit how and with whom you share information.
- Share with care: Think before posting about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it and how it might affect you or others.
- Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it.: Information about you, such as purchase history or location, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it is collected by apps, websites and all connected devices.
So, how can you participate in NCSAM – and be a part of something big – this week? Here are a few easy ways:
- Get involved on social media. Use the #CyberAware hashtag in your posts, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and download our sample social media content to share before and during the month.
- Become a NCSAM Champion. Register yourself and/or your organization as a Champion to take action in support of NCSAM and receive materials you can use to spread the word. It’s easy and free to sign up.
- Join our #ChatSTC Twitter chats. Each week, @STOPTHNKCONNECT will host a discussion on a different online safety topic. This Thursday, Oct. 5, at 3 p.m. EDT/noon PDT, we’ll discuss the simple steps to online safety and security. Use #ChatSTC to join!
For more information on NCSAM and how you can get involved, visit our NCSAM web portal and check out DHS’ STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ page. We look forward to partnering with you to make this NCSAM the best yet!