Do your part, be cyber smart

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. The theme “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart” aims to empower individuals and organizations to own their role in protecting their part of cyberspace.

By increasing awareness and enhancing understanding of basic cybersecurity practices, we can all work together to combat cyber threats. The human element is oftentimes the biggest cybersecurity risk. Each of us has a critical role to play to ensure the security of our personal and professional data.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is spearheaded by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The message of this year’s theme, “If you connect it, protect it,” dives into the importance of keeping connected devices safe and secure from outside influence.

With more people spending time at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever before, connected devices are an integral part of how we communicate and access services essential to our well-being. Data collected from these devices can include highly specific information about a person or business, which can be exploited by bad actors for criminal gain.

Cybersecurity Awareness Month aims to shed light on these security vulnerabilities, while offering guidance surrounding simple security measures to limit the susceptibility of threats for common devices.

This year’s focus areas revolve around:

  • Understanding and following general security hygiene for connected devices and home networks.
  • The importance of maintaining security of connected devices for remote workers.
  • How connected devices play a pivotal role in the future of healthcare.
  • The future of connected devices for consumers, professionals and the public domain.

If everyone does their part — implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating vulnerable audiences or training employees — our interconnected world will be safer and more resilient for everyone.

Did you know?

  • The average cost of a data breach for a U.S. company in 2019 was $8.19 million. That’s an increase of 130 percent since 2006.
  • Seven to 10 percent of the U.S. population are victims of identity fraud each year, and 21 percent of those experience multiple incidents of identity fraud.

Common internet scams

As technology continues to evolve, cybercriminals use more sophisticated techniques to exploit technology to steal your identity, personal information and money. To protect yourself from online threats, you must know what to look for. Some common internet scams include:

  • COVID-19 scams. These take the form of emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donate to fraudulent charities or causes.
  • Imposter scams. These occur when you receive an email or call from a person claiming to be a government official, family member or friend requesting personal or financial information. For example, an imposter may contact you from the Social Security Administration informing you that your Social Security number (SSN) has been suspended, in hopes you will reveal your SSN or pay to have it reactivated.
  • COVID-19 economic payment scams. These target Americans’ stimulus payments. CISA urges all Americans to be on the lookout for criminal fraud related to these types of payments — particularly fraud using coronavirus lures to steal personal and financial information, as well as the payments themselves — and for adversaries seeking to disrupt payment efforts.

To learn more about Cybersecurity Awareness Month and how to participate, visit staysafeonline.org.

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