This October, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is commemorating its 15th year as an annual initiative to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.
NCSAM 2018 is a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online, while increasing the resiliency of the nation during cyber-threats. DHS is the federal, national lead for NCSAM. DHS also co-leads NCSAM with the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Keep a clean machine and phone
Keeping your internet-connected devices free from malware and infections makes the internet safer for you and more secure for everyone. Regularly scan your personal and office devices for viruses and spyware along with keeping your software up to date. Here are some additional ways to protect your devices.
Avoid oversharing online
You may be very excited to share what you do at work, school and home with others. Remember your workplace or school’s security standards and be careful what you say, especially in public settings. You never know who may be overhearing your conversations. Also, put away your work identification or badge when out in public and when using public transportation. Here are some additional resources and tips to keep safe online.
Protect your password
Create a password with eight characters or more and a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, and don’t make it easy to guess. Additionally, always opt to enable stronger authentication when available, especially for accounts with sensitive information including your email, medical files, or bank accounts. Here are more tips and tricks to protect your password.
Stay protected while connected
Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot – like on an airplane or in an airport, hotel, or café – be sure to confirm the name of the network and login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. If devices on your network are compromised for any reason, or if hackers break through an encrypted firewall, someone could be eavesdropping on you—even in your own home on encrypted Wi-Fi. Here are more useful tips about secure Wi-Fi use.
Play hard to get with strangers
Cyber criminals will often offer a financial reward, threaten you if you don’t engage, or claim that someone is in need of help. Don’t fall for it! Keep your personal information as private as possible. Cyber criminals can also use social engineering with these details to try to manipulate you into skipping normal security protocols. Here’s the FBI’s list of top computer and internet scams.
Report any cybersecurity incident
Report computer or network vulnerabilities to the National Cybersecurity Communications and Integration Center (NCCIC) at 1-888-282-0870, or at www.us-cert.gov/report. Forward phishing emails or websites to NCCIC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Protect critical infrastructure
Our nation’s critical infrastructure runs on the Internet. The systems that enable us to live our daily lives—the electrical systems, financial institutions, transportation systems, and more—are all dependent upon a digital ecosystem. As cybersecurity breaches continue to rise in frequency and scale, it is critical for all Americans to understand their role and take steps to protect our critical infrastructure. Here’s more on what you can do to protect key systems.
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. 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. Here’s more information about authentication.
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. Here’s more on password security.
Keep your devices current with software updates and fixes
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. Here’s more on how criminals try to get access to your phone or computer.
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 your digital devices, by changing the factory-set default password and username. Here’s some additional information on home router and WiFi security.