National Cyber Security Awareness Month Is Around the Corner

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It's almost October, which means that Halloween is right around the corner.  It's a time for children to dress up as superheroes, ghouls and ghosts and head out in search of sweet treats and mischievous tricks.  October is also National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a time to focus on the digital ghouls and monsters who lie in wait to pull horrible tricks after promising a treat.

We teach our children not to judge a book by its cover, and in the stories we tell them this lesson is brought home by revealing that the real monsters aren't always the ones who look scary.  Too often we forget these lessons when we're online, leaving us exposed to threats that we don't notice because they don't look like what we would expect a serious online threat to look like., home of the National Cyber Security Alliance and one of the principal organizers of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, offers a wealth of tips and resources for children, parents and anyone else who spends time online. The material includes tips on protecting yourself and your family from multiple facets of cyber-crime and covers everything from online gaming to social networking and mobile security.

Though October is designated cyber security awareness month, cyber security is something that must be taken seriously every month -- and every day-- of the year. Identity thieves and cyber criminals use a number of means to try and get at your sensitive data, but being smart about what you put online, what you share with others and what you reveal about your personal life, goes a long way toward beefing up your personal security.  Take the time to get involved in NCSAM to learn more about staying safe online, and help others to become more secure as well.

As an official champion of this important annual awareness-raising campaign, watch for more tips, resources, articles and events related to raising awareness to fraud and cyber crimes throughout the month of October. 

In keeping with the spirit of cyber security here are some key tips to help you stay safe online.

The first step is to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

Protect Your Personal Information.
Since social networking sites are about sharing, you may be prompted or tempted to reveal personal information. Make sure you are comfortable with the information you share. Draw the line between what's okay to share and what's best kept private.
• Secure your accounts: Ask for protection beyond passwords. Many account providers now offer additional ways for you verify who you are before you log into that site.
• Make passwords long and strong: Combine capital and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols to create a more secure password.
• Unique account, unique password: Separate passwords for every account helps to thwart cybercriminals.
• Own your online presence: When available, set the privacy and security settings on websites to your comfort level for information sharing. It's ok to limit who you share information with.
• Your online reputation can be a good thing: Recruiters often respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness, and mastery of the environment.

Connect with Care.
When you use social networks you are joining a global community. Therefore, it's smart to approach social networking with a degree of caution. Remember that people may not be who they say they are. If one of your friend's accounts is compromised, you could get spammy and suspicious posts.

• When in doubt, throw it out: Links in tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it's best to delete.

Be a Good Online Citizen.
Social networks work best when people maintain the same level of courtesy online as they would in the real world.
•Safer for me more secure for all: What you do online has the potential to affect everyone - at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.
•Post only about others as you have them post about you.
•Know what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.

Keep a Clean Machine.
You can't be safe and secure if the technology you are using is vulnerable.
•Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats.

STOP.  Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
THINK. Take a moment to be certain the path is clear ahead. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, or your family's.
CONNECT. Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you've taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

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What you do online has the potential to affect everyone - at home, at work and around the world. Practicing good online habits benefits the global digital community.

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