There are few pseudo holiday celebration days or months that truly get my attention. But National Cyber Security Awareness Month definitely does! It’s the one month a year that consumers are consistently reminded by news reporters, government agencies, non-profits and security companies that security is everyone’s responsibility. All of us need to take actions to protect our personal security, our nation’s critical infrastructure and be good digital citizens.
The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a non-profit public-private partnership focused on cyber security awareness and education for all digital citizens, partnered with McAfee on a new survey to examine U.S. residents’ online safety posture. The findings reveal a substantial disconnect between our respective online security perceptions and our actual practices while on the Internet. The online safety survey shows that all of us can increase our efforts to make the Internet safer in light of such notable statistics:
- 90% of Americans agree that a safe and secure Internet is crucial to our nation’s economic security
- 50% say their job is dependent on a safe and secure Internet and 79% say losing Internet access for 48 consecutive hours would be disruptive
- 90% of us do not feel completely safe from viruses, malware and hackers while on the Internet
- 25% of us have been notified by a business, online service provider or organization that our personally identifiable information (e.g. password, credit card number, email address, etc.) was lost or compromised because of a data breach
This data shows that Americans can improve their online safety practices in a number of areas, especially when it comes to accessing the Internet from their personal devices. We can all increase our online safety practices by starting with these simple ways to stay safe online:
- Keep your machine clean
Use up-to-date comprehensive security software and use the latest versions of your Web browser, and operating systems.
- Own your online presence
When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing—it’s good practice limit who you share information with.
- Make passwords long, strong and unique
Use a combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols create a more secure password and don’t use the same password for all your sites.
- Protect all your devices that connect to the Internet
Along with your PC, make sure to protect your Macs, smartphones, tablets and other Internet-enabled devices.
- Connect with care
Get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots and the potential risks of using them. Also, when banking and shopping, check to be sure the site’s security is enabled.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Evangelist to McAfee. Watch him discussing information he found on used electronic devices YouTube. (Disclosures)