October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), a time to focus on the importance of cybersecurity in our day-to-day lives. Almost every aspect of our lives now relies upon the Internet. We bank online, connect with friends through social media, and shop using apps and websites. In addition, our running water, electricity, and transportation systems are also run through online networks. Given how dependent we have become on online networks, it is critical that every American knows how to stay safe online.

You don’t have to be a computer expert to help create a safer and more secure Internet. Even small steps, like setting strong passwords and being cautious about free Wi-Fi networks, can make a huge difference in avoiding cyber threats. 

Encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up to receive the Stop.Think.Connect. Monthly Friends Newsletter and receive the latest cybersecurity news and tips directly to your inbox here.


Regardless of how fast your fingers fly on a keyboard or cell phone, the best tool you have to help avoid risks online is your brain. Stop before you post, share, or send: do you trust the site you're on? How would you feel if your information ends up somewhere you didn’t intend? Below are some resources and materials to help you learn about safe cyber behavior.

  • Download activity sheets, books, and other age-appropriate resources for preschool aged kids 3 to 7 years old on Savvy Cyber Kids. Savvy Cyber Kids - Sign up for free emails about the modern day street smarts that are key for living in our digital world and get tips and information for parents with kids from elementary through high school levels. 
     
  • Check out the FTC’s free online security tips and resources, and share with your friends, family, coworkers, and community.  They have tips, games and even videos.  If you have kids, my personal favorite free resource is their "Just For You - Parents" section. 
     
  • Take a bite out of cybercrime with the National Crime Prevention Council’s McGruff the Crime Dog and sign McGruff’s Internet Safety Pledge (PDF, 1 page, 23 KB).
     
  • Learn about the online issues affecting kids, tweens, and teens from NetSmartz, a program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
     
  • Learn how to protect yourself, your family, and your devices with tips and resources from the National Cyber Security Alliance.
     
  • Check out the National Centers of Academic Excellence for information on higher education in information assurance programs to meet America's growing demand for cybersecurity professionals.
     
  • Follow ten simple, customized steps from the Federal Communications Commission’s Smartphone Security Checker to secure your mobile phone. In addition, learn how to safely use public Wi-Fi networks and what steps to take if your phone is stolen.

The Department of Homeland Security's encourages you to practice these online safety habits every day:

  • Think before you click. Don’t click on links or open email attachments you don’t trust. Look closely at the link or the sender of the message to make sure it’s legitimate. When in doubt, throw it out – ignore the link or delete the email.
     
  • Keep a clean machine. Update the software on your Internet-connected devices – including personal computers, smartphones, and tablets – regularly to reduce the risk of infection from ransomware and malware.
     
  • Back up your data. With threats like ransomware on the rise, it’s more important than ever to protect your valuable work, music, pictures, and other digital information by keeping backup copies.
     
  • Secure your online accounts. Use strong passwords on your sensitive accounts, especially your banking and email accounts. Also, enable multi-factor authentication – a security measure that requires you to use your password in conjunction with an additional piece of information (commonly a one-use PIN sent to your mobile device) – whenever available. More information about multi-factor authentication can be found at www.lockdownyourlogin.com.

*All resources are from Homeland Security's Website, are not affiliated with HACU and we do not endorse any companies or programs listed.  We have provided them as a resource to our members, however you will have to decide if the services or resources offered are right for you.