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.
For the first time ever, NCSAM kicked off with a global launch event at the Organization of American States’ (OAS’) headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 3.
Throughout this NCSAM, awareness is raised towards 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. 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? 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.