The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced the kick-off of National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015. During the month, DHS said “outreach efforts will aim to increase Americans’ understanding of basic cybersecurity practices to stay safe online and the role each of us plays in keeping cyberspace safe and secure.”
During the month of October, DHS. the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center raise awareness on cybersecurity in an effort to educate Americans about protecting themselves online. With so many Americans using the Internet for banking, shopping, and personal communication, it is critical that information online is protected from cyber intrusions. While the national awareness campaign encourages Americans to be more cautious online, it also reminds Americans to recognize the importance of cybersecurity in their daily lives.
“Cybersecurity is a top priority for DHS. Cyber threats are increasing in their frequency, scale, and sophistication,” said Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “Each American is a key part of our Nation’s first line of defense and in minimizing the impact of cyber attacks. I encourage all Americans to take advantage of National Cyber Security Awareness Month as an opportunity to recognize the role they play in making the Internet safer and more secure by practicing good cyber habits at home, work, school and on the go.”
“Every day,” DHS said, “tens of millions of Americans shop, bank and stay in touch with friends and family online. Our Nation’s critical infrastructure systems– power grids, financial systems and transportation systems – all rely on the Internet. This increased connectivity brings many conveniences and advantages; however, it also creates increased threats and risks to our security.”
Throughout National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015, DHS will be highlighting ways cybersecurity impacts Americans in all aspects of their lives, including in their use of personal technologies and in their workplaces.
“Everyone has a role to play in cybersecurity, whether it’s protecting their families from identity theft, protecting their workplaces from cyber attacks, or protecting their communities from cyber predators,” DHS noted.
DHS offered the following tips to stay safe online:
- Set strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone;
- Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates;
- Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and community about Internet safety;
- Limit the amount of personal information you post online and use privacy settings to avoid sharing information widely;
- Be cautious about what you receive or read online—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is; and
- Visit www.DHS.gov/StopThinkConnect to learn more about how you can help strengthen America’s cybersecurity.
“National Cyber Security Awareness Month serves as an important reminder for everyone to better understand the importance of cybersecurity and to take action to keep their personal information secure online, not just in October but every day," said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del), ranking member and former chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
“National Cyber Security Awareness Month also serves as an important reminder for Congress to meet our responsibility when it comes to securing cyber space," Carper stressed, noting that, "Last year, Congress made strides in bolstering our nation’s cyber defenses by passing four bipartisan cybersecurity bills that strengthen our national security and help modernize our nation’s cybersecurity and cyber workforce."
"But," he added, "more must be done. I hope my colleagues act without further delay and pass a bill that helps the private sector and the federal government share more information about the threats coming from cyber space. This kind of information sharing bill is critical to our national security, as well as the security of many private companies across our country."
“Improving our cybersecurity practices must remain one of the top priorities for Congress, the Administration, and every American. This month, let’s seize the opportunity and do all that we can to keep ahead of the growing cyber threat and stay safe online," Carper concluded.
For more information about National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2015, visit http://www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month-2015. For more information on DHS’s cybersecurity efforts, visitwww.dhs.gov/cyber.
Editor’s note: For a comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity issues facing both government and industry, read Homeland Security Today’s, special report, The Cyber Threats to America, with an introduction by former US Attorney General Michael Mukasey.