This past October marked the 15th year for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). This yearly event is put together by The US Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance. Togeter, their mission is to ensure that people all across the country are familiar with the latest practices and knowledge in cybersecurity.
With all the information we keep stored online, cybersecurity has developed into a drastic concern in today’s world. NCSAM assures that Americans have all the resources and knowledge necessary to stay secure online. Alongside this, NCSAM focuses on teaching the next generation of security professionals cyber skills early on, so they understand the value and importance of cybersecurity jobs.
The focus of this month was to inform people that it is our shared responsibility to work together and improve our nation’s cybersecurity. Each week focused on a different key message to ensure safe practices and up-to-date knowledge on the state of cybersecurity.
- Week One: Strengthening the nation’s cybersecurity ecosystem.
- Week Two: How cybersecurity provides millions of rewarding jobs.
- Week Three: How to increase and strengthen the cybersecurity workforce across all sectors.
- Week Four: Securing the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber threats.
With a month packed of information on cybersecurity, there are 4 main takeaways from this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
Protect At-Home Smart Devices
Every day, people all over the US are taking the risk of exposing their personal information to online attackers when they use their smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Safe practices on the critical infrastructure start with securing a multi ratta home wifi network. As soon as a wireless network is installed, make it a priority to change the default password and username to something unique. This provides defense against cybercriminals, and help to secure at-home devices.
Another line of defense for protecting household devices is to keep all the system software up-to-date. This includes any network security software, operating system updates, or web browser and application updates. Keeping all the devices updated means that the latest security measures available are intact to combat cybercriminals, and patch known vulnerabilities.
Conduct Good Cyber Habits On The Job
It’s important to make sure that safe measures become habits and are consistently practiced at home and on the job. The last thing that anyone wants to happen is putting both personal and company information in danger. For example, always check with the IT department before downloading any software that was not company issued. These downloads can contain malware and other viruses that may easily infiltrate computers and devices.
Another good cyber habit is when navigating the internet to make sure that each site visited is secure. To determine whether a site is safe, check the URL to see if it begins with “https://.” The “s” after “http,” means the site is secure and safe to navigate. Similarly, this will almost always include a green or grey lock before the URL.
Enable Stronger Passwords and Two-Step Authentication
Believe it or not, there are still people who have a simple, easy to guess password, that they use for some of their most delicate information. When developing a password for smart devices or personal and work accounts, always make sure it is a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters — both upper and lowercase with at least one special character. Also, be sure that the password is unique, and it is something easy to remember. Finally, develop different passwords for different sites and programs. Using the same password across multiple sites and platforms puts personal information at a higher risk for theft.
While longer passwords are strongly recommended for cybersecurity, it’s always important to provide another layer of protection. Two-step authentication provides a user with an additional layer of network security. This is usually in the form of a one time code that the account holder receives via text or email, guaranteeing higher account security.
Always Share Any Information About Cybersecurity Issues
Emails at work have become a common target for cybercriminals to infiltrate and try to exploit both money and delicate information. Many times there will be links that contain malware that can quickly infect devices and become a gateway to company information. Other times these criminals pose as high-ranking company officials who ask for money or private account information about the company. If one employee falls for any of these ploys, it could mean a big loss for the business.
Luckily, the Internet Crime Complaint Center provides a system where businesses can report their cybersecurity incident to help the FBI catch these cybercriminals. This system also contributes the information necessary to prevent any similar cyber threats and help to stop this from happening to other businesses in the future.
This year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month supplied the country with many great tips about cyber threats and online safety. These four takeaways provide some of the most crucial steps to cybersecurity and staying safe online.
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