What You Can Gain from National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Since 2004, October has been deemed National Cyber Security Awareness Month—a time when government and private organizations come together to enhance protection for the digital lives of Americans. Almost every aspect of our lives now involves the internet. Today, every citizen should know how to secure their information.

This annual event is the time to raise public awareness and provide folks with resources they need for their own protection. The stakes are high: in the previous year, data breaches left 164.4 million people’s social security information at risk. Corporate attacks are costing businesses between $400-$500 billion dollars every year. And hacking attempts show no signs of slowing.

In addressing those pressing security issues, National Cyber Security Awareness Month has a distinct theme for each week. These specific conversations better allow public and private actors to empower citizens with the necessary knowledge and tools needed to create change.

The first theme is STOP. THINK. CONNECT., lasting from October 3rd to the 7th. This slogan represents a security framework for citizens to protect themselves. For example, how can someone ensure cybercriminals don’t access their online banking account? What steps can be taken to make sure fitness-tracking data and social media profiles remain in the right hands? STOP and make sure you’re leveraging every security measure you can. THINK about the possible consequences of online actions. Only then, you can CONNECT to the Internet safely. Learn more by joining the conversation with @McAfee, from October 3rd to 7th.

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The second week’s spotlight is on workplace security. Often, cybersecurity breaches at businesses happen through an employee. Employees should know how to spot fake emails from real communications. For example, be diligent in identifying a known sender’s address and the correct URL. Likewise, employees should know that not every USB-drive is safe for transferring proprietary data. This week will offer more guidance in related areas, which can also improve employees’ security skills at work.

From October 17th to the 21st, the focus shifts toward cybercrime. A range of motivations push individuals to use technology to harm others. These motivations can include financial gain, personal revenge, and extreme ideology. In modern society, it’s important to understand the motivations behind attackers. When certain online scams request to install a file on your computer, that should be a red flag. Reducing one’s digital footprint via private social media settings increases protection. During this week, more information will be presented on the full spectrum of cybercrime from cyberbullying to database breaches.

In week four, we’ll take a look at our connected future. New technologies are on the horizon, such as the Internet of Things, connected cities, and innovations in healthcare. Our country will soon be connected in increasingly fundamental ways, and cybercriminals may see that as an opportunity. Individuals should research new products before purchasing and ensure services are from a trustworthy source. Tune in from October 24th to 28th to discover how we’ll work together to secure our future.

The last week of October will focus on critical infrastructure. These days, the internet is intertwined with basic societal necessities, such as electricity and transportation. Government and private organizations will need to secure these systems. But the actions of every citizen can help. This final week will address the roles that the public can play in securing our nation’s infrastructure.

Let’s all make the most of National Cyber Security Awareness Month by joining the conversation. We’ll be participating in the #ChatSTC Twitter chats for NCSA throughout the month. Stay tuned for more, by following @McAfee.

Want to stay up-to-date on the latest consumer and mobile security threats? Be sure to follow me on Twitter and ‘Like’ McAfee on Facebook.

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