President Barack Obama has once again declared October to be National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM).
Ten years ago, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance created the NCSAM initiative in an effort to unite governmental and industrial efforts towards creating a safer and more secure online experience for every American.
Cybercrime continues to increase and the U.S. remains a primary target for fraudulent attacks, hacking expeditions and identity theft. These crimes don't just affect individual victims, either. Security experts estimate that as a result of cybercrime our country loses about $100 billion every year and 508,000 jobs.
Since cybersafety is an issue that affects individuals, corporations and small to medium-sized businesses alike, the theme of NCSAM is "Our Shared Responsibility." The internet cannot be secured by either businesses or consumers, but must be made a safe medium through a concerted effort on the part of the entire community of users. The President announced the continuation of NCSAM on Tuesday.
"Our commitment to maintaining an open, secure, and reliable cyberspace ensures the Internet will remain an engine for economic growth and a platform for the free exchange of ideas," said the White House in a press release. "This month, we resolve to work together to meet this global challenge."
Even when citizens are not actively online they are still potential victims because so much of our daily infrastructure is supported by the web. This means that our personal information and activities can be traced through the internet, which allows for greater efficiency but also leads to heightened vulnerability.
Each week of the month will emphasize a different topic relating to cybersecurity. This week's subject is "STOP. THINK. CONNECT," and aims to promote awareness among web users. If individuals and companies were always mindful when accessing information or simply browsing online, then everyone would feel safer while enjoying the benefits of the web. All too often, Americans fail to adopt security measures that could prevent crime simply because it takes a little time or they don't realize the risk factors.
As an individual consumer, you can make a difference in cybersecurity for everyone. Do this by being a knowledgeable citizen and staying up-to-date on internet safety issues and the latest fraud attacks. Also, implement long, complex and randomized passwords for all of your accounts. Be sure each account corresponds to a different password, so that if one is stolen not all of your accounts will be hacked. If you need help keeping track of everything, we would recommend password manager software that can encrypt your information and help protect you from becoming a victim.
Also, refrain from clicking on links that are emailed to you from unknown or suspicious sources, and monitor your bank account and credit reports closely. The faster you report identity theft, the better. So celebrate National Cyber Security Awareness Month by improving your cyber-defenses, making both you and the country a little bit safer.