October 1, 2019 | News

16th Annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month Begins Today

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With Americans spending as much as 12 hours a day in front of screens, the NCSA and CISA remind people to Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 1, 2019 – The 16th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) kicks off today with a new message to Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT., reminding everyone of the role we all play in online safety and security at home and in the workplace. Co-led by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and held annually in October, NCSAM is a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safe and secure online while increasing the resilience of the nation against cyber threats.

“We are excited to launch the 16th year of NCSAM with a renewed focus to Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.,” said Kelvin Coleman, executive director of NCSA. “This simple message encourages consumers to understand the devices and applications they use every day, secure their digital profile and protect it by familiarizing themselves with privacy settings to help safeguard their privacy and limit cybercrimes. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, it’s important to remember these few tried-and-true methods for protecting oneself online.”

As Americans spend more time than ever in front of screens, NCSAM 2019 emphasizes personal accountability and stresses the importance of taking simple, proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home, in the workplace and on the go.

#BeCyberSmart: Tips to Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.

  • Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media and any other service that requires logging in.
  • Shake up your passphrase protocol. Consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Get creative and customize your standard passphrase for different sites, which can prevent cybercriminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passphrase for each of your accounts.
  • If you connect, you must protect. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game device or other network devices, the best defense against viruses and malware is to update to the latest security software, web browser and operating systems. Sign up for automatic updates, if you can, and protect your devices with antivirus software.
  • Play hard to get with strangers. Cybercriminals use phishing tactics, hoping to fool their victims. If you’re unsure who an email or message is from ̶ even if the details appear accurate ̶ or if the email looks “phishy,” do not respond and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. When available use the “junk” or “block” option to no longer receive messages from a particular sender.
  • Never click and tell. Limit what information you post on social media ̶ from personal addresses to where you like to grab coffee. What many people don’t realize is that these seemingly random details are all cybercriminals need to know to target you, your loved ones and your physical belongings ̶ online and in the physical world. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers and passphrases private, as well as specific information about yourself, such as your full name, address, birthday and even vacation plans. Disable location services that allow anyone to see where you are – and where you aren’t – at any given time.
  • Keep tabs on your apps. Most connected appliances, toys and devices are supported by a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved —gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and use the “rule of least privilege” to delete what you don’t need or no longer use. Learn to just say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources.
  • Stay protected while connected. Before you connect to any public Wi-Fi be certain to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good cyber hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (e.g., banking) that require passphrases or credit card numbers. Your personal hotspot is a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. Only use sites that begin with “https://” when shopping or banking online.