Washington, D.C. – Critical infrastructure, which provides the essential services underlying American society – and is the backbone of our economy, health and security – relies heavily on the foundation provided by the internet. On the last day of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), which leads into Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (CISR) Month, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and their partners in industry, government and the nonprofit sector are spotlighting the importance of securing our nation’s critical infrastructure and how individuals and organizations can help protect these vital networks from cyber threats.
“Our critical infrastructure – which consists of 16 sectors, including food and agriculture, energy, water, transportation and healthcare – is fueled by the internet. Every day, through our smartphones, computers and other connected devices, we connect to the national grid without even realizing it,” said Michael Kaiser, executive director of NCSA. “For example, you connect to the financial services sector when you conduct online banking. Throughout the day, engineers, scientists, car manufacturers, legislators and other industries interact with critical infrastructure when they use their organizations’ networks to connect to the internet. With most Americans relying on the internet to conduct their business at home or at work, it’s imperative that everyone use technology safely to protect not only themselves, but also the underpinnings of the systems that sustain our day-to-day lives.”
Following NCSAM Week 4, which highlighted the growing Internet of Things (IoT), this last day of October introduces CISR Month, which builds awareness and appreciation of the importance of critical infrastructure and reaffirms the nationwide commitment to keep it and our communities safe and secure. Protecting national infrastructure requires preparation and coordination across the entire country.
“The risk would be very high if there were an attack on our critical infrastructure,” said Kaiser, who pointed to a recently disclosed disruptive cyber attack on a nuclear power plant in Germany as an example. “Resistance is key, and so is responding to and being able to recover quickly from an attack.”
This year, the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection is partnering with InfraGard of the National Capital Region (InfraGardNCR) to promote CISR Month. The month will highlight the following themes:
- Week 1: Our Connected Infrastructure – cyber and physical interdependence
- Week 2: Hometown Security – “Connect, Plan, Train, Report”
- Week 3: Partnering with the public and private sectors to build resilience
- Week 4: Fostering innovation and investment in resilient infrastructure
To learn more about CISR Month and how you can get involved, visit the DHS website.
NCSA recommends taking the following steps to protect yourself, your information, the larger community and our critical infrastructure this CISR Month and year-round:
- Lock Down Your Login: Fortify your online accounts by enabling the strongest authentication tools available, such as biometrics, security keys or a unique one-time code through an app on your mobile device. Your usernames and passwords are not enough to protect key accounts like email, banking and social media.
- Keep a clean machine: Keep all software on internet-connected devices – including PCs, smartphones and tablets – up to date to reduce risk of infection from malware.
- When in doubt, throw it out: Cybercriminals often use links in email, social posts and texts to try to steal your personal information. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
- 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.
A NCSAM keystone event will be held today at the George Washington University (GW) in Washington, D.C. The event will emphasize the importance of cybersecurity to critical infrastructure and feature a panel discussion on public-private partnerships, which will highlight how government and industry work together to secure the internet and what the future of critical infrastructure protection may hold. Additionally, speakers will discuss the high demand for cybersecurity professionals, the exponential growth of the cyber sector, opportunities that exist for cybersecurity training and the career paths available. The esteemed group of panelists include cybersecurity and workforce experts from DHS, Cisco, Tripwire and NCSA. Learn more and RSVP here. The event will be livestreamed on the NCSA Facebook page.
Although NCSAM 2016 is ending, the need for cybersecurity awareness – and understanding the implications of our online actions – continues. NCSA works continuously to promote a safer, more secure and more trusted internet by educating the public about how they can protect themselves, their families and the greater digital community online. It’s important to continue to think about online safety year-round and in all facets of daily life, from the upcoming holiday shopping and travel season to Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28 to tax and wedding seasons next spring. To learn how you can be safer online every day, check out the resources and tips on staysafeonline.org and sign up for NCSA’s mailing list to get updates and helpful materials all year long.
NCSAM Week 5 Resources for Building Resilience in Critical Systems
- DHS Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community (C³) Voluntary Program: This no-cost program helps organizations of all sizes and in all industries combat the cyber threat. C³ supports industry in increasing cyber resilience by promoting awareness and the use of the National Institute for Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework.
- HIMSS Innovation Center Cybersecurity Hub: HIMSS’ Cybersecurity Hub, which debuted on Oct. 25 at the HIMSS Innovation Center in Cleveland, OH, is an in-person immersive exhibit presenting innovative technologies, content and education through a series of interactive modules on ransomware, advanced attacks and data breaches.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework: The NIST Framework, which was created through collaboration between industry and government, consists of standards, guidelines and practices to promote the protection of critical infrastructure. The framework’s prioritized, flexible, repeatable and cost-effective approach helps owners and operators of critical infrastructure manage cybersecurity-related risk.
Materials to Help You Stay Safer Online Year-Round
- DHS Stop. Think. Connect. Resources: DHS’ Stop. Think. Connect. page shares cyber tips and resources, ways to get involved with the global online safety awareness campaign, toolkits for all segments of the community, videos, promotional materials and more.
- BBB Cybersecurity: The Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) has created a business education resource to provide small and medium-sized businesses with valuable tools, tips and content to help them manage cyber risks and learn about cybersecurity best practices in the modern business environment.
- ConnectSafely.org: ConnectSafely works to help people get the most from their technology while managing the risks and help decision makers craft sensible policies that encourage both innovation and responsible use. Here you’ll find research-based safety tips, parents’ guidebooks, advice, news and commentary on all aspects of tech use and policy.
- #CyberAware Newsletter: #CyberAware is a monthly newsletter created for parents by NCSA. Each month, the newsletter shares family online safety news and resources and the latest from the Stay Safe Online blog.
- LockDownYourLogin.com: Usernames and passwords are no longer enough to keep your accounts secure. Anyone with your username and password can access your account. Visit LockDownYourLogin.com to easily learn how to move beyond the password and better secure your online accounts.
- OnGuardOnline: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s OnGuardOnline portal provides news, tips, resources, videos and more to help you, your family and the larger community stay safer and more secure online.
Upcoming NCSAM and CISR Month Events
- National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Conference & Expo 2016, Tuesday, Nov. 1 – Wednesday, Nov. 2, Westin Kansas City Crown Center, Kansas City, MO: The NICE 2016 Conference and Expo features thought leaders from education, government, industry and nonprofits who are addressing the cybersecurity education, training and workforce needs of the nation. This two-day event includes face-to-face convening of public-private partners, an opportunity to signal NICE strategic directions and priorities and a forum to showcase best practices. Learn more here.
- #ChatSTC Twitter Chat: Building Cyber Resilience in Critical Infrastructure, Thursday, Nov. 3, 3:00 p.m. EDT/noon PDT: As NCSAM comes to a close, National CISR Month begins in November. In this #ChatSTC, we’ll discuss the connection between the cyber and physical worlds and the importance of protecting and securing our nation’s critical infrastructure and share simple cyber tips for individuals looking to do their part to protect our critical infrastructure from cyber threats. Use #ChatSTC to join!
You can follow the NCSAM conversation this week on social media using the hashtag #CyberAware (and tagging your own posts with #CyberAware, too!). Additionally, on this last day of October you can show your support for NCSAM by sharing memes, posters and more on social media and/or by registering as a NCSAM Champion. All year round, you can easily integrate STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ into your awareness and education efforts by becoming a STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ partner. Thank you to the 1,290 organizations and individuals supporting NCSAM 2016 as Champions and the more than 535 organizations around the world who have taken part in the STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ campaign by registering as partners.
Finally, check out the Stay Safe Online blog for NCSAM posts from NCSA and partners, and cybersecurity and privacy tips and resources throughout the year.
About National Cyber Security Awareness Month
National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) 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. Now in its 13th year, NCSAM is co-founded and co-led by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, the nation’s leading nonprofit public-private partnership promoting the safe and secure use of the Internet and digital privacy. Recognized annually in October, NCSAM involves the participation of a multitude of industry leaders ‒ mobilizing individuals, small and medium-sized businesses, nonprofits, academia, multinational corporations and governments. Encouraging digital citizens around the globe to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, NCSAM is harnessing the collective impact of its programs and resources to increase awareness about today’s ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape. Visit the NCSA media room to learn more.
About the National Cyber Security Alliance
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is the nation’s leading nonprofit, public-private partnership promoting cybersecurity and privacy education and awareness. NCSA works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and NCSA’s Board of Directors, which includes representatives from ADP; AT&T Services, Inc.; Bank of America; Barclays; BlackBerry Corporation; Cisco; Comcast Corporation; ESET North America; Facebook; Google; Intel Corporation; Logical Operations; Microsoft Corp.; NXP Semiconductors; PayPal; PKWARE; Raytheon; RSA, the Security Division of EMC; Salesforce; SANS Institute; Symantec and Visa Inc. NCSA’s core efforts include National Cyber Security Awareness Month (October), Data Privacy Day (January 28) and STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™, the global online safety awareness and education campaign cofounded by NCSA and the Anti Phishing Working Group, with federal government leadership from DHS. For more information on NCSA, please visit staysafeonline.org/about-us/overview/.
About STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™
STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ is the global cybersecurity education and awareness campaign. The campaign was created by an unprecedented coalition of private companies, nonprofits and government organizations with leadership provided by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). The U.S. Department of Homeland Security leads the federal engagement in the campaign. Learn how to get involved at stopthinkconnect.org.