Cybersecurity Awareness

Cybersecurity means more than just coming up with a strong, unique password for your online banking, although that’s a great start. Our actions online have the potential to put us, our families, and even our country at risk.

October is  National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an opportunity for everyone to step up--from the average smartphone user to a corporate CEO--and better understand their shared role in our country’s cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity refers to measures that everyone can take to protect devices, data and networks from unauthorized access. Cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of governments, companies, groups or individuals. We are all connected in cyberspace and have a role to play in cybersecurity.

Unlike physical threats that prompt immediate action–like stop, drop and roll in the event of a fire–cyber threats are often difficult to identify and comprehend.  So what might a cyber threat look like?

  • Malware erasing entire systems

  • Intruders breaking into security systems and changing corporate files

  • Intruders using your computer or device to attack others

  • Intruders stealing confidential information on social media or from your company

  • Banking fraud

  • “Ransomware” holding your device and data hostage in exchange for payment

  • Intruders using phishing campaigns to steal your account logins/passwords, steal your identity, or sensitive data

Although cyberattacks start in the electronic realm, they have the potential to have real-world impacts. For example, a hack to a department of transportation network could impact traffic signals.

Be Prepared

What can you do?

  • Enable stronger authentication. Stronger authentication (e.g., multi-factor authentication that can use a one-time code texted to a mobile device) helps verify that a user has authorized access to an online account. For more information about authentication, visit the Lock Down Your Login Campaign at www.lockdownyourlogin.org.

  • Make your passwords long & strong. Use complex passwords with a combination of numbers, symbols and letters. Use unique passwords for different accounts. Change your passwords regularly, especially if you believe they have been compromised.

  • Keep a clean machine. Update the security software, operating system and web browser on all of your Internet-connected devices. Keeping your security software up-to-date will prevent attackers from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities.

  • When in doubt, throw it out. Links in email and online posts are often the way cyber criminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious (even if you know the source), delete it.

  • Share with care. Limit the amount of personal information you share online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely.

  • Secure your Wi-Fi network. Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices. Secure your Wi-Fi network and digital devices by changing the factory-set default password and username.

Be Informed

(sources: ready.gov, US Department of Homeland Security)