October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), an annual campaign to raise awareness about the importance of cyber security. Launched in October 2004, NCSAM is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its partners, including the National Cyber Security Alliance, to ensure all Americans have the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. With the number of high profile security breaches we witnessed in recent years, the topic of cyber security is more relevant than ever.
This past year alone, we saw WannaCry and Petya Ransomware wreak havoc on thousands of computers around the world, costing businesses and individuals millions of dollars and hours of productivity to recover lost files. In more recent news, the Equifax data breach, put over 143 million consumers at risk for identity theft. With all these events in mind, now is the perfect time to review your personal and professional security practices.
Here’s a summary of this month’s themes and some tips on how to stay safe online.
Themes for 2017
Week 1: October 2-6 – Theme: Simple Steps to Online Safety. Week 1 addresses the top consumer cyber security concerns, provides simple steps to protect against these concerns, and helps the public understand what to do if they fall victim to cyber crime.
Week 2: October 9-13 – Theme: Cyber Security in the Workplace is Everyone’s Business Week 2 showcases how organizations can protect against the most common cyber threats and looks at resources to help organizations strengthen their cyber resilience.
Week 3: October 16-20 – Theme: Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet Week 3 reminds citizens that their sensitive, personal information is the fuel that makes smart devices work. Understanding how to use these cutting-edge innovations in safe and secure ways is critical.
Week 4: October 23-27 – Theme: The Internet Wants YOU: Consider a Career in Cyber security Week 4 encourages students and other job seekers to explore cyber security careers. Parents, teachers, guidance counselors, and state and local officials will be taught about this growing field and how to engage young people in pursuing cyber security careers.
Week 5: October 30-31 – Theme: Protecting Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Threats Week 5 looks at cyber security in relation to keeping critical infrastructure, such as traffic lights, running water, phone lines, and other key infrastructure secure. It also facilitates the transition to November’s Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month (CISR), highlighting the tie between cyber security and our nation’s critical infrastructure.
Now that you know what’s coming up this month, follow these steps to secure your devices and ensure you’re safe online.
Tips to Stay Safe Online:
- Enable stronger authentication. Always enable stronger authentication for an extra layer of security beyond the password that is available on most major email, social media and financial accounts.For more information about authentication, visit the new Lock Down Your Login Campaign at www.lockdownyourlogin.com.
- Use long and strong passwords. Use strong and unique passwords with a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters. Change your passwords regularly, especially if you believe they have been compromised.
- Keep the security software, operating system, and web browser on all of your Internet-connected devices updated. Keeping your security software up to date will prevent attackers from taking advantage of known vulnerabilities.
- Don’t click or open emails from unknown sources. Links in email and online posts are often the way cyber criminals compromise your computer through a phishing attack. If it looks suspicious (even if you know the source), delete it.
- Be wary of how much you share online. Limit the amount of personal information you share online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing too much information.
- Monitor your devices for viruses and spyware. Many cybersecurity vendors offer free security checks for your devices. Check your devices for known viruses and spyware with these free online security checkups and tools.
JPMerc & Co., Inc. has been delivering enterprise quality IT solutions to small and midsized businesses in the greater Boston area and beyond since 2005. Contact us and let’s discuss your company’s IT needs.