A Lookback: National Cyber Security Awareness Month

The line between our online
and offline lives has been blurred.

Now more than ever, our societal well-being, economic prosperity and security are greatly impacted by the internet.

 

October was National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), commemorating 15 years of raising awareness about the importance of cyber security. Each year, NCSAM is a collaboration between industry and government to make sure people have the resources to be more secure online, while increasing the resiliency against cyber-threats.

 

The initiative, which was launched by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Oct. 2004, emphasizes different themes every week. By focusing on specific challenges of cyber security and identifying opportunities for behavioral change, NCSAM is dedicated to fostering a safer, more secure and more trusted internet.

 

Ultimately, cyber security is our shared responsibility. Since it is a cross-sector, cross-cutting challenge, people must work together to safeguard against breaches, attacks and vulnerabilities.

Since the month has come to a close, here are several security tips to keep in mind as the year concludes:

1. Be Alert to Common Scams

 

Common scams pervade the internet. Some of the most obvious ones include:

 

  • “Tech Support” Scams: These occur when callers claim that your computer is infected by a virus; the callers usually attempt to solicit money to rid the infected machine of its virus.

  • Recruitment Scams: These scams typically come in the form of an email or phone call and may attempt to solicit cash for “processing a successful job application.” Another form of this scam is an email claiming to be from a recruiter with a resume or other attached document. The document will typically have malicious content.

  • IRS Scams: These occur in the form of calls or emails claiming to be from the IRS threatening lawsuits, or accusations that the recipient has not paid their taxes. The ultimate goal of these IRS scams is to solicit payment from the victim.

 

Exercise caution and diligence when engaging with untrusted parties, and continue to ensure that you and your employees are aware and trained to spot potential scams.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Protect Your “Internet of Things” (IoT) Devices

 

Nanny-cams, security cameras, HVAC and electronic door locks are a few examples of household utilities that we can now connect to our Wi-Fi and manage remotely. However, these devices are not always out-of-the-box secure.

 

Make sure that the default passwords on these utilities are changed (on both the router and devices) and that firmware is kept up to date. Outdated, unsupported devices should be avoided and, if possible, replaced with current technology.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Practice Good Mobile-Device Security

 

Remember to only use trusted application stores when downloading apps. Be vigilant as to what information you allow applications to access. If an app doesn’t need access to your location or photos, don’t allow it!

 

You should also always set a passcode for your mobile device. Avoid jailbreaking, getting “root” privileges or otherwise altering the operating system of your device.

 

For companies, invest in a mobile device manager to protect your data and enforce your security standards when using mobile devices to process company information.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Protect Your Data, Especially Data at Rest

 

You should protect your data in all three states that it exists: at rest, in use and in motion. In particular, data at rest is information stored on your hard drive. While you may think this data is secure, your hard drive is not impenetrable if your network becomes compromised.

 

It is wise to encrypt your hard drive so your data at rest is optimally secure. Additional precautions, like storing data in separate locations for furthered protection, can also be taken.

 

In paying tribute to NCSAM 2018, we must spotlight the most critical needs of our communities, businesses and infrastructure so we can augment strong cyber security. Spread the #CyberAware word now—and all year long.

 

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