Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Cybersecurity Awareness Month logo

Be Cyber Smart!

Since 2004, the President of the United States and Congress have declared the month of October to be Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a dedicated month for the public and private sectors to work together to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.

This is the 20th Cybersecurity Awareness Month and it has grown into a collaborative effort between government and industry to enhance cybersecurity awareness, encourage actions by the public to reduce online risk and generated discussion on cyber threats on a national and global scale.

As our lives have become increasingly dependent on technology, virtually all personal and business data is kept on internet-connected platforms, which can become a gold mine for bad actors. In these tech-fueled times, our homes, social well-being, economic prosperity and nation’s security are impacted by the internet.

Secure Our World: 2023 and Beyond

In recognition of the 20th year, CISA announced a new enduring cybersecurity awareness program, Secure Our World. Secure Our World reflects a new enduring message to be integrated across the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) awareness campaigns and programs, and encourages all of us to take action each day to protect ourselves when online or using connected devices.

The program promotes behavioral change across the Nation, with a particular focus on how individuals, families and small to medium-sized businesses can Secure Our World by focusing on the four critical actions below. Secure Our World is the theme for this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month and will remain the enduring theme for future awareness month campaigns.

Four Easy Ways to Stay Safe Online

We can all collaborate to build a safer, more trusted digital world! By learning the four simple steps we can take to stay safe online at home, work and school, and sharing these tips with our community, we can all become significantly safer online. 

Below are the simple actions we should all take not only during October, but every day throughout the year.   

Use Strong Passwords

As our lives have become increasingly dependent on technology, virtually all personal and business data is kept on internet-connected platforms, which can become a gold mine for bad actors. Own your role in cybersecurity by starting with the basics. Creating strong passwords and using password managers are great places to start.

Simple passwords, such as 12345, or common identifying information, like birthdays and pet names, are not safe for protecting important accounts holding critical information. Using an easy-to-guess password is like locking the door but leaving the key in the lock. Weak passwords can quickly be broken by computer hackers. But it’s impossible to remember a unique strong password for every account!

The good news is that creating and storing strong passwords with the help of a password manager is one of the easiest ways to protect ourselves from someone logging into our accounts and stealing sensitive information, data, money or even our identities.

Turn on MFA

You need more than a password to protect your online accounts and enabling MFA makes you significantly less likely to get hacked. Enable MFA on all your online accounts that offer it, especially email, social media and financial accounts.

MFA provides us with extra security by confirming our identities when logging in to our accounts, like entering a code texted to a phone or one generated by an authenticator app. MFA increases security—it can make us significantly safer online. Even if our passwords become compromised, unauthorized users will be unable to meet the second step requirement and will not be able to access our accounts.

Recognize and Report Phishing

Phishing attacks and scams have thrived since the COVID pandemic began in 2020 and today, phishing attacks account for more than 80 percent of reported security incidents. We stress the importance of being wary of emails, text messages or chat boxes that come from a stranger or someone you were not expecting. Think before you click on any suspicious emails, links or attachments and make sure to report any suspicious emails if you can!

Phishing occurs when criminals try to get us to open harmful links, emails or attachments that could request our personal information or infect our devices. Phishing messages or “bait” usually come in the form of an email, text, direct message on social media or phone call. These messages are often designed to look like they come from a trusted person or organization, to get us to respond.

The good news is we can avoid the phish hook and keep our accounts secure

Update Software

Ensuring your software is up to date is the best way to make sure you have the latest security patches and updates on your devices. Regularly check for updates if automatic updates are not available.

Many people might select “Remind me later” when we see an update alert. However, many software updates are created to fix security risks. Keeping software up to date is an easy way for us to stay safer online. To make updates even more convenient, turn on the automatic updates in the device’s or application’s security settings!

Stay safe online and learn how to protect yourself, your family and your devices with these tips and resources.