Cybersecurity Awareness

Wondering what you can do to make your business or personal computers more secure? The Department of Homeland Security has free tips and resources to help you. Find out what they are.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

President Obama proclaimed October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

“America relies on our digital infrastructure daily, and protecting this strategic asset is a national security priority,” Obama wrote in his proclamation.

Obama went on to state that the information technology infrastructure reached into nearly all facets of the United States. While citizens look on the Internet as a way to shop, exchange messages and ideas, and to keep up with friends, it also controls vast networks.

Computers regulate the energy grid, aid in billions of Wall Street transactions, and keep track of trillions of dollars in bank transactions worldwide. Computers also regulate the country’s transportation system.

Stop. Think. Connect.

Cyber networks connect people around the world at the blink of an eye, Obama noted, but attacks on computer systems can freeze the networks, compromise confidentiality, and endanger children.

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, themed, “Stop. Think. Connect,” highlights the need for protection, Obama stated, noting this month “provides an opportunity to learn more every day about the importance of cybersecurity.”

As if to illustrate the threat, the FBI announced earlier this month that they and international law enforcement disrupted a large-scale, international organized cybercrime operation active in several countries that resulted in numerous arrests.

The cyber thieves targeted small- to medium-sized companies, municipalities, churches, and individuals, infecting their computers using a version of the Zeus Botnet.

The malware captured passwords, account numbers, and other data used to log into online banking accounts. This scheme resulted in the attempted theft of $220 million, with actual losses of $70 million from victims’ bank accounts.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the lead federal agency in defending critical cyber networks and the agency launched the Stop. Think. Connect. public cybersecurity awareness campaign. The national initiative promotes simple steps the public can take to increase their safety and security online.

What You Can Do

Below are a few steps that DHS states you can take to not only participate in National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but also enhance your own cybersecurity:

  • Make sure that you have anti-virus software and firewalls installed, properly configured, and up-to-date. New threats are discovered every day, and keeping your software updated is one of the easier ways to protect yourself from an attack.
  • Set your computer to automatically update for you. Software updates offer the latest protection against malicious activities. Turn on automatic updating if that feature is available.
  • Back up key files. If you have important files stored on your computer, copy them onto a removable disc and store it in a safe place.

“I urge all Americans to visit DHS.gov for more information about the practices that can enhance the security of our shared cyber networks,” Obama wrote.

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