October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. But why is cybersecurity awareness so important? Cybersecurity is constantly changing, with new threats emerging and new tools being released. Everyone needs to be aware of IT security today, and October is an excellent time to reflect on some of your risks and learn more about security-related best practices.
What is Cybersecurity Awareness Month?
Cybersecurity Awareness Month is intended to raise general awareness regarding cybersecurity. It’s a paired effort between the cybersecurity industry and the government, and its primary aim is to build end-user awareness. Not only does end-user awareness protect the end-users themselves, but it spreads to the businesses that they work for, too. Cybersecurity Awareness Month first began in 2003 and has run every year since, as new threats have emerged and users have become more vulnerable overall.
Now that everyone does practically everything online, both the Department of Homeland Security and the National Cybersecurity Alliance are interested in keeping people safe and secure online. People do their banking online, people stream videos online, people listen to music online, and people complete their school work online. This can make them vulnerable to threats, especially when they download files or click on email links. Keeping antivirus systems up to date and understanding proper password management is critical.
The Importance of Protecting Yourself
It’s not just major companies that need to protect their networks. Even people at home could find their WiFi being hijacked, their files stolen or their computers encrypted. Most people today rely upon things like smartphones, tablets and laptops to do their work, or even just for entertainment. If a cyberattack hits them, they could lose their files, their money or even their identity.
What if your bank account was hacked into? Your credit accounts? Even hacking into your utility accounts would give someone enough information to steal your identity, open credit cards and take out loans. But you can protect yourself by knowing more about cybersecurity.
How to Improve Your Security
Since 2009, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month has included the theme of “Our Shared Responsibility.” If employees don’t protect their own systems, they can take down a business. If people don’t protect their own information, it can make systems more vulnerable. A single person in a household can get attacked, then everyone in that household will get attacked. It’s critical that individuals protect their security for the sake of everyone.
Here’s how you can improve your cybersecurity:
- Don’t reuse passwords. When you reuse passwords, you make yourself vulnerable. If someone breaks into one of your accounts, they will break into all of your accounts. You can use a password manager to generate and store passwords.
- Don’t click on links in emails. When you click on links in emails, they could lead you to a malicious site. Often an email will represent itself as official, such as from your bank. But when you click on it, it’ll ask you for your confidential login information.
- Don’t download or open attachments. Attachments could be malicious, such as ransomware. Ransomware encrypts your computer and doesn’t let you access your files until you pay a ransom.
- Don’t give out personal information. When you give out your personal information, it can be used for anything. Social engineers will call you and pretend that they’re IT or on other official business.
- Do update your applications. When you don’t update your applications regularly, they will have vulnerabilities that haven’t been patched out.
- Do verify informational requests. If someone from your bank calls you for information, call your bank back at its official number and ask them whether they called.
- Do install antivirus software. Antivirus solutions will automatically protect you from malicious programs.
By improving your own general cybersecurity, you can reduce the chances of encountering a high-risk event. A cybersecurity issue can lead to significant problems for anyone, even those who don’t rely upon the internet for much.
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