National Cyber Security Awareness Month

cybersecurityAs cyber-technology deepens it’s hold on our lives, the need for security from online fraud, theft, and abuse becomes more of a concern. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security has kicked off National Cyber Security Awareness Month. The month of October is dedicated to educating citizens and raising awareness about cyber security, offering tips on ways to stay safe online, and strengthening the nation’s security in the event of a cyber-related incident.

National Cyber Security Awareness Month was started in 2003 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance, and in cooperation with the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Through increased outreach, National Cyber Security Awareness Month provides an opportunity to “arm” the public and private sector with ways to stop cyber crime in it’s tracks.

Purchases are made online without a thought. We can manage our bank accounts, pay bills, and even engage our home security systems, from many miles away. Some of the most intimate details of our lives are stored in the cloud and, if you can think it, there’s likely “an app for that.” Everyday tasks have never been easier than when we utilize today’s technology. Yet, we have never been more vulnerable.

Tips for Staying Safe Online

Inarguably, the most vulnerable group of internet users are those tweens, teens and young adults tied to social media through personal computers and their ever-present smart phones. Young people aren’t nearly as alert to fraud when it comes to social media than their older counterparts. Criminals now find their way into your home via the internet.

In addition to ensuring a more secure internet, the DHS (through educational promotions like National Cyber Security Awareness Month) encourages everyone to become more proactive when it comes to guarding your family, personal identity, information and access to your finances. Many consumers are aware of the basic security breaches, and take steps to shore-up themselves and their family against these threats. However on top of cyber-security, you may feel there are some holes in your personal cyber security.

  • Keep your security software up to date. Also, update your web browser and operating system and keep them current. If offered, sign on for automated updates. By keeping current, your computer will stay clean from online threats such as malware and viruses, which provide a way in for unwanted visitors.

  • Guard any device which connects to the internet, such as gaming systems and smart phones, from threats. Also, make sure any external devices are scanned before you enable them. USB’s and other plug-ins can carry viruses and expose your computer if they’re not clean.

  • Password security is only as strong as the password you use. Secure your identity and forget your birthday, address, dog’s name, etc. Use a password with caps and numbers interspersed, use different passwords for different web accounts and know your child’s passwords.

  • Passwords are a good start to preventing a security breach but if a site offers additional security by asking questions such as “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “Where did you attend kindergarten?,” take advantage. You’ll be that much more secure. Also, pay attention to the privacy settings, especially on social media. Make sure your child’s account is set to the most comprehensive privacy setting available.

  • If an email, tweet, or online post displays a suspicious looking link, don’t click on it. Sometimes you have to be a bit extra cautious online. Criminals use embedded links as a means to gain access to your information.

  • Try not to conduct intimate business while on a community Wi-Fi hotspot, such as a coffee shop, hotel, airlines or library. Only shop or conduct business on sites that being with “http://” or “https://” because these are secure sites.

  • Create a set of internet rules for your child. Only allow them to visit the sites which you approve. If your child has or wants to set up, a social media account, help them so that you have control over the account as well. Stay attuned to their cyber-activity and educate your tween, teen, and young adult children on staying safe and secure on the internet.

  • Practice what you preach. Inform others about ways to stay safe on the internet. Promote National Cyber Security Awareness Month throughout your circle of friends and family.

Participate in National Cyber Security Awareness Month by staying aware of the current internet threats and scams. Become proactive. Remind your children that “stranger danger” exists on the internet as well as anywhere else. Empower them and yourself by staying secure, online and wherever life takes you. Securing your home and family from outside threats is easy but preventing cyber-invasion is getting harder everyday. With wireless security systems and video surveillance, you can thwart attempts by criminals to gain access to your home.