For the 16th year in a row, October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. You may learn more about this initiative at the website https://staysafeonline.org/ncsam.
National Cybsersecurity Awareness Month, or NCSAM, is a joint initiative of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Critical Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The NCSA is a public/private alliance dedicated to educating and empowering the global digital society to use the Internet safely and securely. Its board is made up of members of household name companies and government organizations. CISA is a government agency under the Department of Homeland Security. It is responsible for the protection of the nation’s critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats.
This year’s theme for NCSAM is “Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.” You can follow online news and events by searching the hashtag #BeCyberSmart.
Own IT focuses on being safe on social media and reducing what you click and tell online. It also recommends updating your privacy settings to be as strong as possible and keeping tabs on your apps, making sure they are up to date and remaining safe.
Secure IT focuses on keeping your usernames and passwords more secure. It recommends shaking up your passwords and instead using strong, unique passphrases. It also recommends enabling multi-factor authentication everywhere it is available. It advocates for safe shopping online and educates you on how to spot phishing attempts, one of the leading ways hackers gain access to your accounts.
Protect IT is all about making sure you are keeping yourself and your systems safe. It recommends using the latest generation of security tools to protect your computer and your browsing experience. It advocates for keeping your operating system and applications patched and up to date. It advises on the safe use of WiFi, especially public WiFi and the do’s and don’ts when connected. It also talks about keeping your personal information and that of clients safe.
There are tremendous online resources available as part of NCSAM. The NCSA is active on social media, namely Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube and it posts links to actionable resources you can take advantage of today. I encourage you to follow the NCSA on one or more of these social media platforms.
In the workplace, NCSAM presents a perfect opportunity to talk about your business’s cybersecurity posture. If your IT department is not posting updates throughout this month about NCSAM, ask them why and encourage them to have your company become a NCSAM Champion and share the materials that are available to the entire organization. At home, take advantage of the opportunity to give yourself a security checkup using some of the resources available at the NCSAM website. If you are an educator, there are specific resources available for you as well, to help educate your students and fellow staff on being more secure online.
There are posters you can print and display, guidelines for hosting a cybersecurity event, guidelines for talking points and more. Make every October your own Cybersecurity Awareness Month and promote the idea to your friends, neighbors and colleagues. One of the best ways we can fight back against the hackers out there targeting us is to educate ourselves about their tactics and intents. Then we can implement recommendations like those of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month to improve our security posture and frustrate these adversaries. Stay safe online!