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  • 2021 Cybersecurity Awareness Month

    By Jenette Lee

    Now in its 18th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month—previously known as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month—continues to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity across our Nation, ensuring that all of us have the resources we need to be safer and more secure online.

    This year, CISA and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) are proud to continue promoting cybersecurity awareness using the overarching theme:

    “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.”

    This theme encourages all of us to protect our part of cyberspace, stressing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity.

    In 2021, CISA and NCSA focus on the following areas and have provided some tips to help you increase your cyber-awareness:

    Week 1 - Be Cyber Smart. Take simple actions to keep your digital life secure.
    • Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all accounts and devices to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you. Use it for email, banking, social media, and any other service that requires logging in. If MFA is an option, enable it by using a trusted mobile device, such as your smartphone, an authenticator app, or a secure token—a small physical device that can hook onto your key ring. 
    • Shake up your password protocol. According to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guidance, you should consider using the longest password or passphrase permissible. Get creative and customize your standard password for different sites, which can prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to these accounts and protect you in the event of a breach. Use password managers to generate and remember different, complex passwords for each of your accounts. 
    • If you connect, you must protect. Whether it’s your computer, smartphone, game device, or other network devices, the best defense against viruses and malware is to update to the latest security software, web browser, and operating systems. Sign up for automatic updates, if you can, and protect your devices with anti-virus software. 
    Week 2 - Fight the Phish! Learn how to spot and report phishing attempts to prevent ransomware and other malware attacks.
    • Play hard to get with strangers. Cyber criminals use phishing tactics, hoping to fool their victims. If you’re unsure who an email is from - even if the details appear accurate - or if the email looks ‘phishy,’ do not respond and do not click on any links or attachments found in that email. When available, use the “report phish” or “report” option to help RWRD or your email provider block other suspicious emails before they arrive in your inbox. 
    • Never click and tell. Limit what information you post on social media - from personal addresses to where you like to grab coffee. What many people don’t realize is that these seemingly random details are all criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and your physical belongings - online and in the real world. Keep Social Security numbers, account numbers, and passwords private, as well as specific information about yourself, such as your full name, address, birthday, and even vacation plans. Disable location services that allow anyone to see where you are – and where you aren’t – at any given time. 
    • Keep tabs on your apps. Most connected appliances, toys and devices are supported by a mobile application. Your mobile device could be filled with suspicious apps running in the background or using default permissions you never realized you approved—gathering your personal information without your knowledge while also putting your identity and privacy at risk. Check your app permissions and use the “rule of least privilege” to delete what you don’t need or no longer use. Learn to just say “no” to privilege requests that don’t make sense. Only download apps from trusted vendors and sources. 
    • Stay protected while connected. Before you connect to any public wireless hotspot – like at an airport, hotel, or café – be sure to confirm the name of the network and exact login procedures with appropriate staff to ensure that the network is legitimate. If you do use an unsecured public access point, practice good internet hygiene by avoiding sensitive activities (e.g., banking) that require passwords or credit cards. Your personal hotspot is often a safer alternative to free Wi-Fi. Only use sites that begin with “https://” when online shopping or banking.
    Week 3 - Explore. Experience. Share. Commemorate the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education’s (NICE) Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week and the global cybersecurity workforce.

    Week 4 - Cybersecurity First. Explore how cybersecurity and staying safe online is increasingly important as we continue to operate virtually in both our work and personal lives.
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